Years ago, as a child, I began journaling. It started as a diary. I shared my innermost thoughts on why my mother expected me to do too many chores and how I would someday marry Kirk Cameron. It was profound for my tween self, and I wrote in it nearly daily. Over the years, it developed into more complicated thoughts and questions on life, but it also started my path to becoming a writer.
Now, I don’t mean a writer in the sense that I have written dozens of novels. But, a writer in the sense that I developed the ability to share my thoughts on paper, and ultimately became a writer in other ways. (Though, someday, that novel WILL get finished.) Journaling led me to be able to analyze my thoughts and, on occasion, saved my life.
These days I write daily whether that be writing articles here or writing literature curriculum. And I have come to realize that writing is a muscle. I used to think it was a skill that you either had or you didn’t. But, after teaching writing to children of all ages, I’ve discovered that’s not the case.
Writing is like a muscle, a muscle in your brain requiring regular exercise. When you spend daily time writing, you become a better writer. You become prolific. When you stop writing, that muscle begins to atrophy. You can still write words on paper, but they begin to take on less meaning and depth. Consistent journaling can help you work that muscle and lead you and your students to become better writers.
Journaling can teach your child to become a better writer
Journaling can benefit your children in so many different ways to become better writers. It can be a way for students to work through their feelings. It can help them be better communicators and it can even help with spelling and grammar.
As I said before, becoming a writer isn’t necessarily a skill you are born with already mastered. Some people do have a natural tendency to speak and write eloquently. But, most of us learn to write based on what we read and what we learn.
Starting on the journey of writing is not always easy. Sometimes it is quite painful.
When your child is told to put their thoughts onto paper for the first time, it can be extremely intimidating. Putting their thoughts and feelings out there into the world can be terrifying. What if people disagree with them? How will their writing be received? Did they share something that might be embarrassing?
As a parent and teacher, your job is to encourage your children to write. But, you may be unaware of how to go about that. Were you encouraged by all your teachers over the years? Did you ever feel small and insignificant? Did you ever express your feelings only to have red marks all over your paper?
Teaching writing to those of us who were taught in traditional ways can be frustrating. We remember having our papers marked up for grammar and spelling errors and being frightened of committing the fatal comma splice error. That’s why journaling is the perfect way to start the path to becoming a better writer.
Journaling is about expressing thoughts on paper, not about grammar and spelling.
So, how can you start this path to journaling with as little stress as possible?Journaling is about expressing thoughts on paper, not about grammar and spelling. #homeschool #journalingtoabetterwriter #relaxedcharlottemason Click To Tweet
Start with a positive experience
First, I encourage you to journal alongside your child. Nothing tells your child how important you feel a task is more than doing it with them. When they see you writing in your journal, they realize that this must be important. And, “it can’t possibly be that painful if mom is journaling beside me.”
Before you open up your journals and start writing, you will want to spend a few minutes getting into the right state of mind. Don’t begin journaling right after a difficult math lesson. Start in the right headspace, or you’ll end up with two stressful experiences. Reflect on your child’s mood and what might be going through their mind at this moment. This reflection doesn’t have to be something you do every day, but it can be advantageous when you start journaling.
Get into a positive headspace for journaling
While this isn’t necessary every single time, there are definitely some benefits to your child being in a positive mindset as they begin to write in their journal. If you see that they are in a negative place, try to help them become more positive about the experience.
When I’m teaching my students in our homeschool group, I start with getting them to a place of security. I let them know that their journal is their place to express their thoughts. I do that by throwing out the red pen.
Don’t become a critic, be an advocate
My students know that I will not read their papers unless I have permission. They know they can turn their page over and staple it closed in their journal. That’s their private space, and I will not invade it.
I also make sure to let the children know that I will NOT be checking their journals for spelling, punctuation, or any other reason to mark up their papers. This is usually met with cheers. Our goal is to encourage thoughts on paper. When we, as teachers, start making marks on a student’s paper, we are making marks on their soul. It takes courage to share one’s thoughts. It should be received with encouragement, not a critique.
This isn’t to say that I don’t write on their papers. Because I most certainly do. Every paper has words of encouragement and questions. I want them to think deeply. So, if I feel they have more to say, then I ask them to share it.
Set the atmosphere
Journals, pens, candles, comfy spaces – these are all wonderful ways to set an atmosphere. Find what helps your student feel more comfortable. That may mean cute pens and journals, or it could mean a place of quiet and peacefulness.
Though I see the lovely benefits of sitting by candle and writing in a beautiful notebook, it is rarely how I write. I do, however, know things that make me feel open to writing – a comfortable seat, headphones playing classical music, and a bottle of water nearby.
Help your child get into a place of comfort and mindfulness, and they will feel better about starting journaling.
Your journey to becoming a better writer through journaling is just beginning
Over the next several weeks, I’m going to be spending some time sharing ways to help you encourage your child to become a better writer through journaling. And I hope you will begin to see the benefits of this new experience.
To start you off, I’ve included a free printable of journal prompts. I know you probably have a zillion downloads of writing prompts, and, honestly, they are just to help spark some thoughts. You can use them when you need a place to start or sometimes just for fun. But, whether you use writing prompts or not, make sure to start your journey by journaling often.
Hi, I’m Dachelle. I’m a homeschooling mom of 3 in the South. I love chocolate and have been known to hide it from my children. I can often be found reading a good book (or even sometimes just an okay book) and enjoying a jar of Nutella — don’t judge. I blog, here, at HideTheChocolate.com when I’m not creating book clubs and making lists…lots and lots of lists (it’s an addiction). Learn more…