Kids in the early grades are learning to express themselves in a foreign language—writing. One way to help kids get better at writing—whether you’re a teacher or a parent—is by helping them keep a journal. Not only will students love writing about their favorite subject—themselves—they just may choose writing as their favorite subject in school.
Did you know that frequent journal writing
- Helps kids become more confident writers?
- Can help kids discover their life goals?
- Allows kids to work through their own problems?
- Lets kids think about their thinking—an important metacognitive skill?
Teachers may face some push-back when trying to implement a daily journal writing time. It’s a foreign language, remember—we weren’t born knowing how to write, and it’s tricky for kids to think of ideas and spell words in our crazy language of English.
Good news for teachers: Beyond reading popular books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dear Dumb Diary to inspire students, here are some tips to help students succeed in journal writing.
6 Tips for Journals in a K–6 Classroom
- Choose a daily journal time: Prioritize journal time in your schedule. Help kids know that when they enter the classroom at the beginning of the day, after recess, after lunch, etc., they’re expected to get writing right away.
- Build stamina: Some kids may not be used to long periods of writing. Set a timer and help them increase writing stamina by a minute or two each day.
- Make it free-style: Let kids write about whatever they want—don’t give a prompt. Younger kids might start with drawing a picture and labeling it. That’s just fine—their writing will improve if they are writing daily!
4. Help inspire new topics: Inevitably, there will be students who can’t think of what to write or who always write about the same topic—sports, video games, etc. Read from your own journal to give them ideas and help them get out of a rut!
5. Respond to entries: Did you ever get a note from a teacher? Likewise, kids will love reading your comments on their writing. Keep it content-related; red marks for punctuation and spelling are off-limits for journals.
6. Let kids share their journals! Kids love an audience. Choose just a couple kids a day to read in the author’s chair. Invite other classes or parents to listen. Make it a reward to share or an incentive for kids to get writing if they’re slacking off. Help kids publish their writing using online tools. Check out my how-to videos on ReadWriteThink.org’s Stapleless Book and Printing Press.
—Leah Davis Christopher, Stance
Thanks to literacy professor Brad Wilcox of the BYU Education Department for many of these journal-writing ideas.
Next week’s post: Public school teachers may not be able to explain to kids the spiritual benefits of keeping a journal, but parents can. What are some of those benefits?