The Benefits of Journaling for Young Writers— The art of writing a journal is priceless and timeless, but not all people are fond of writing. Many young students find it intimidating and difficult. However, with a little encouragement and a focus on fun, you can help your child enjoy the many benefits of journaling!
Six Key Benefits of Journaling
It’s a simple truth: the earlier kids begin writing, the more benefits they’ll enjoy. Journaling is a powerful practice that can have profound educational, social, and emotional impacts on a child’s development. Let’s take a look at just a few of the key reasons to have your child begin keeping a journal.
1. One of the benefits of journaling is the development of strong written communication skills. This is a stepping stone for your child’s success in the future, especially during middle school and high school. Strong communication skills are essential to a successful life.
2. Journaling also encourages your child to explore the corners of his or her mind. Your child may discover a talent such as writing poetry or stories. Children have imaginative minds which they can use to write about interesting topics and insights from their lives. Journal writing also gives a sense of freedom to your child since she can write about anything that is on her mind.
3. Writing can also improve grammar and spelling. With regular practice, your child will learn the correct way to construct sentences, paragraphs, and compositions.
4. Another one of the key benefits of journaling is that it can improve your child’s reading and comprehension skills. When kids are tasked with writing their own short stories, essays, and poems, they become more adept at reading and understanding these works from other authors. Doing your own writing (especially creative writing) helps you see and understand the literary and communication devices at work in pieces from other authors.
5. When used in the classroom, journaling can also help students feel more comfortable and prepared to contribute to discussions. Some students may not be willing to speak up if they feel like they don’t have something to say or if they don’t have a clear thought prepared. However, when students receive a lesson, journal about it privately, and then enter a class discussion—they will have had the chance to reflect on the material first and gather their own thoughts before being put on the spot in front of their peers.
6. Finally, a journal can also be a great tool for teachers to use in assessing their students. This is another one of the main benefits of journaling in the classroom. So long as there is full disclosure ahead of time and students know their journals will be read, teachers can collect journal entries every so often and read them to get a feel for where their students are at. It’s a simple and effective way to take the pulse of a student’s comprehension—and also a fantastic strategy for monitoring learning progress over time.
To learn more about the benefits of journaling in the classroom (and for a few strategies to maximize its effectiveness), be sure to check out this great resource from Universal Publishing.
35 Writing Prompts to Help Your Child Enjoy the Benefits of Journaling
- What are three things you need in life to be happy (aside from basic needs like food, water, etc.)? Write about why each of these things is so special to you.
- You wake up one morning and find that there is a giant package with a bow on it just outside your bedroom door. What do you hope you’ll find inside it? Where do you think it came from?
- Make a list of the first ten random words that come to mind. Then, write a story that ties as many of them together as you can!
- If you could meet any famous celebrity or athlete, who would you choose? Why?
- Think of one of your favorite stories or books and rewrite it with a brand new ending. Be as creative as you like!
- Write about the most special toy you had when you were younger and explain why it was so important to you.
- Would you rather climb a mountain, explore the depths of the ocean, or travel to outer space? Why?
- Write a rhyming poem about school where each line is about a different subject or class.
- Imagine that your best friend comes to you and says that she is experiencing a “Groundhog Day” situation (where she keeps living the same day over and over again). How would you respond?
- Write about something that has been bothering you lately. Use your journal to let all your feelings and frustrations out!
- Do you ever wish you had more (or less) siblings? Why or why not?
- What is your favorite healthy habit? What do you like about it? How do you feel when you indulge in it?
- Write about a time when you made a new friend. What did the two of you like about each other? Did you have things in common or just get along well?
- What would you do if you were put in charge of the world for the day? Would you make any new rules? Would you simply spend the day doing all the fun things you could think of?
- Some secrets should be kept—and some shouldn’t be. Write about which secrets are good to keep private and when it might be important to tell a secret to someone else.
- What is something you wish you were better at doing? Write about why you would like to improve this skill and how your life would be different if you were better at it.
- Write about the way you feel when it is the end of the school day on a Friday afternoon.
- At what age do you think kids should be allowed to have cell phones at? Why?
- What is your greatest belief or personal value? Write about why it is so important to you.
- Imagine a day where you get to do anything you like, eat whatever you like, and hang out with anyone you like. What would your dream day include? Be as detailed as you can!
- What would you do if a friend said something hurtful to you? How would you feel and how would you respond? Be as honest as you can—and then evaluate whether or not that would be a good way to handle the situation.
- Write about the way you feel when you are surprised. Is it a pleasant feeling or an unenjoyable one? Why?
- Would you rather live in a part of the world where there was no hot weather or no cold weather? Why?
- Imagine that you are walking by the school building at night and you see a strange purple light coming from one of the classrooms. What do you do?
- Do you ever feel lonely when no one is around or do you enjoy having quiet time to be by yourself? Why?
- If you could ask the President one question, what would it be? Why?
- What is your favorite way to help someone out when they are having a bad day? How do you feel when you help other people?
- Imagine that you are looking out the window, and suddenly you see something strange flying through the sky. What is it? What happens next?
- What is the most frightening experience you’ve ever had? How did you handle it? How do you feel when you look back on it now?
- Would you rather spend a whole year eating nothing but vegetables or a whole year having no free time at all? Why?
- Do you believe in horoscopes? Why or why not?
- A tongue twister is a sentence that is hard to say out loud (such as “Sally sells seashells by the seashore”) because it repeats the same letters and sounds again and again (called alliteration). Try writing a few of your own tongue twisters—and then trade them with your friends to see who can say the most out loud successfully!
- What is your favorite color? Write about all the words, things, places, and even people that come to mind when you think of that color. Were there any associations on your list that surprised you?
- Write about the most memorable day of school you ever had. Include as much detail as possible!
- Do you prefer reading fiction or non-fiction books? Why? What is your favorite book from your preferred genre, and what do you like about it?
Making Journaling Fun for Your Child
Try not to force your child to journal if they don’t want to. Rather, just offer encouragement and new ideas so that your child might think of journal writing as a fun activity instead of another boring chore.
The first thing that you need to do is buy a journal for your child. You can go to a bookstore and let your child choose the one that makes them happy to see, hold, and use. This will make your kid feel independent and will also encourage your child to write since they will be attached to the journal they selected.
Before your child starts to write, make sure that you help them understand that they can write about anything under the sun and no one will read the journal. (Psst…be true to your promise and do not read your kid’s journal!) Your child will feel betrayed if they find out that you didn’t honor your promise. You should also make an assurance that the journal will not be critiqued or criticized. This will make your child feel that writing is a fun activity so that they can truly enjoy the full extent of the benefits of journaling.
Additionally, you might offer suggestions to your child about what to write or when to write or even how to write (for example, when they feel relaxed, upset, confused, etc.). You could even suggest places where your child can sit and write such as a special room, a sacred space, or simply on the couch—without the TV on, of course!
Remember, do not force your child to write. Just offer simple, helpful, and encouraging suggestions.
With journaling, you can help your child expand their mind and understand that writing doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Indeed, writing can be a fun and relaxing activity. Just make sure your child understands that journaling is a mind- and creativity-freeing activity in which they can openly record thoughts, emotions, and experiences from their life.
Finally, we also recommend using journal prompts to help your child begin writing. Sometimes all a kid needs is a single sentence or question to get the creative juices flowing! Check out the 35 fresh new journal prompts below to bring inspiration and new light to your child’s journal.
How To Choose Good Writing Prompts for Your Classroom
Teachers at all grade levels have found that regular journal writing helps students become better writers, improves confidence, and encourages creativity and self-expression. Whether your students are just starting out with journaling or whether they’ve been practicing daily writing for several years, it’s important for you to choose good writing prompts that will inspire new ideas and promote creative thought.
There are thousands of journal prompts available online, but they aren’t all created equal. With that in mind, we’ve put together a brief guide to help you select good writing prompts that will make your students excited to write.
How to Select Good Writing Prompts for Your Students
1. Look for Writing Prompts That Match Your Students’ Grade Level
Before you spend too much time evaluating journal prompts, the first thing you need to consider is your class’s grade level—in terms of the actual grade, of course, but more importantly, in terms of their maturity level and writing experience.
These factors can vary wildly from class to class and even from student to student. Beginning writers may do better with simpler prompts that draw heavily on their own experiences and lives, while students who have been journaling for a while will be prepared to tackle more exploratory topics and creative thought exercises.
2. Choose Prompts That Ask Your Kids to Describe and Reflect
Some of the best writing prompts are those that ask students to describe something and to then reflect on it, as these types of questions promote both descriptive, detailed writing and creative thought. Common prompts in this vein are usually open-ended, as simple questions that can be answered with a “yes” or a “no” will shut down many students’ creativity. These prompts will instead frequently ask kids what they think and why they think it.
This encourages students to express their own ideas and to also do the important work of thinking critically about where those ideas come from—which is a skill that will serve them very well in adolescence and adulthood.
3. Look for a Mixture of Creativity and Self-Reflection in a Set of Good Writing Prompts
Kids will get bored quickly when they’re asked to write the same things every day, so it’s also important to find good writing prompts that mix things up a bit!
We love sets of writing prompts that include a variety of creative and reflective questions. This diversity gives your students the opportunity to spend one day imagining an exciting dream world where the clouds are made of cotton candy, and the next day grounded in the reality of how their actions affect the lives of the people around them. Best of all, in addition to stimulating different ideas in your students, these diverse questions also encourage your kids to practice different types of writing.
4. Create Your Own “Classroom Rules” for Writing
Finally, a set of good writing prompts should also allow you to get creative and design your own “classroom rules” to make journaling even more fun!
We love prompts that you can make your own by:
- having students work on a series of similar questions throughout the week,
- asking students to share their completed journals with classmates,
- or encouraging students to go outside or complete activities at home before writing about their experiences.
Journaling is an incredible educational tool, but it should also always be a fun and engaging practice for your students—and finding a set of good writing prompts is the best way to achieve this goal and help your students enjoy the many benefits of journaling!
Related Resources & Links
- 31 Writing Prompts to Get Kids Writing Regularly
- How to Journal For Kids
- Journal Writing: Why Kids Should Journal
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