If you’re like most people — present company excluded, of course — you probably don’t write anything more than you need to for work or school. The idea of adding more writing in the form of journaling might just feel like more homework, especially for kids who probably already have tons to do, courtesy of their teachers.
Journaling, privately or publically, can actually have a number of benefits for your child or children as they’re growing up. How can journaling help your children?
It Improves Communication Skills
Have you ever felt like you communicate so much better in text than you do in when you’re speaking? That’s because writing something down or typing it out gives you a chance to go over what you’re saying to make sure it sounds good and makes sense. We don’t get that opportunity when we’re speaking — even if you take the time to consider your answer to something, you are still expected to respond much more quickly than you would otherwise.
The same thing goes for kids — especially younger kids who are just starting to expand their vocabulary. Instead of getting frustrated because they can’t remember a word, they can take the time they need to puzzle things out and put together a coherent statement.
It Helps Your Child Deal With Their Emotions
Teenage years and the preteen years that lead up to them are filled with raging hormones, changing bodies and a whole range of new emotions that most kids don’t have the experience to comprehend or the vocabulary to explain.
You try explaining your first crush in 50 words or less, using the vocabulary of your average 11-year-old. Be prepared for lots of “I don’t knows” and the kind of exasperated sighs that only a preteen can pull off.
A journal helps counter this by giving them a place where they can figure out their own emotions, on their own time, without worrying about condescending explanations from mom and dad or judgments from siblings or friends.
If you grew up in the ‘90s, your private journal probably came from the Lisa Frank collection, complete with neon-colored animated animals and a totally secure lock you swore was necessary to keep nosy siblings out of your private thoughts. Lisa Frank might not be popular with today’s kids, but the concept is the same — a safe place for your children to write out their thoughts so they can learn to deal with their emotions.
It can be beneficial for adults, as well. By journaling about your day, your emotions or your behaviors, you can start making more sense of your own state of mind and help manage your habits. More than is habitual or habit-based, so writing them down makes it easier to keep track of both good and bad habits.
It Improves Writing Skills
Even in today’s technologically immersed world, the ability to write coherently is an invaluable skill. Even if your children never put pen to paper again after high school, they will still need to know how to communicate coherently in writing by email and other forms of electronic communication.
It also becomes a valuable skill for anyone seeking higher education. You will write more than you could possibly imagine in your quest to obtain a degree.
For children, writing daily in a journal is a , especially while they’re younger. It turns writing into a tool rather than a chore that they have to complete just to make it through their school days.
Kids are inherently curious, so try setting your children up with a curiosity journal where they can write down their observations of the world. This is a great way to encourage conversation between you and your children as well. Encourage them to make their own observations, but be open to explanations if they encounter something they are unable to decipher on their own.
It Encourages and Improves Handwriting Skills
Handwriting is a dying art. Kids know how to text by the age of 3, but can’t even sign their name because cursive is no longer taught in schools. Journaling, especially if your children are writing in a paper notebook, encourages them to utilize and improve their handwriting skills.
Writing by hand tends to make you more thoughtful as well, because you have to slow down your thought processes to match the speed of your handwriting. You might be able to type 90 words per minute, but even the fastest scribbler can only .
Even some of the greats like author Neil Gaiman still before they ever sit down in front of a computer to type up a story. In the digital age, handwriting is still vitally important, and you can help your children improve without one handwriting lesson simply by encouraging them to journal their thoughts.
Writing doesn’t have to be a chore or something that causes anxiety and afternoon homework battles. Encourage your children to write whenever and wherever the mood strikes them. This could be a creative story about the squirrels at the local playground or a piece about the leaves that are changing as the seasons move from summer to fall — at least if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere that the leaves actually do change.
The key to successful journaling, and getting all the benefits from it for your child, is to ignore the rules. Sure, you want to make sure they know proper grammar and spelling, but other than that let their imagination run wild. Children are flowers that should be encouraged to bloom however they see fit, not forced to grow in boxes like those weird square watermelons they grow in Japan. These are the minds that are supposed to be shaping our future — shouldn’t we be encouraging them to think as far outside the box as humanly possible?