The Joy of Journaling

On Saturday I’m at TJ Maxx when I come to an aisle filled with stationery, writing journals, and tablets of paper. My son picks up a black leather-bound one with the words, “Little Black Book” on the front of it.
“Mom, can I have that one?” he pleads.
Soon, we find an identical one for his sister – in hot pink. Thrilled with having their own logbook for their imaginations, my children beg for a pen even before we reach the car. As we head home, I relish a rare moment of calm and quiet inside our van, as the kids lean over their journals, and begin to fill the pages.
For the past few days, the journal and my son have been inseparable; it’s with him everywhere — church, school, meals, bedtime. Heading into church, my husband and I discover the beloved black book stuffed in his shirt. I tell him he can keep it as long as he writes about what he learns at Sunday school. Later that day, I read all about a tour his class took of the church campus, including the historic sanctuary and library.
On the bus ride home on Monday he has drawn a “secret” map; later that day he lists what he will sell his collection of bottle caps for at a garage sale. With the same attention to detail and mathematical process of his math-teaching dad, my son includes type, quantity and a “bulk” price.

“Can I draw pictures in my journal?” he asks. I tell him he can put whatever he wants in his journal — it’s his. Soon I see him sketching characters and scenes from one of his favorite books (to the left is his drawing of the “Turbo Toilet 2000” from the children’s comic book, Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets.) While not classic literature, the Captain Underpants books should be applauded for getting active little boys everywhere interested in reading.

With the lazy days of summer almost here, it’s perfect timing for my kids to show an interest in journaling. I aim to give them ample opportunities to express themselves on paper.

Journal entries can be as diverse as your kids — a place where they can describe impressions of people they encounter, funny antics of a pet, an unforgettable trip or a safe harbor to pour out their feelings of joy or sorrow. In her Suite 101 post on encouraging children to journal, home-schooling mom Chris Oldenburg writes, “They learn to record thoughts, ideas and events on paper and feel a part of the activity while doing so.”

In case I run out of ideas, I found another online resource for writing activities for kids:
“Journaling is a way to process and think things through very effectively – helping you to make decisions. It strengthens your sense of self and helps your realize your potential. It is a great way of clarifying goals and learning to trust yourself,” writes creator Julie, a U.K.-based mother of two, who has been homeschooling her children for eight years.
One writing exercise she suggests is to find a newspaper story that might be of interest to your kids and have them write more about the people in the article.
When it comes to journaling, she advises to encourage kids “straight away to use their journal as an expression of who they are, with felt pens, glitter sticks and a box of stickers.”
Parents should “keep it fun” – “It isn’t something we feel we ‘have’ to do every day. Take your journal out and about with you for when you feel you have something to say,” she advises.
Read more of Julie’s ideas on how to make journaling enjoyable here.

If you have school-age kids, I urge you to get them a summer journal and see what happens!