Staying home during this historic period can bring unforeseen opportunities. One of these might be a chance to teach children to journal.
I began my passion for journal writing in kindergarten when I became fascinated by Louise Fitzhugh's book, Harriet the Spy, and her note-taking.
In middle school, I read The Diary of Anne Frank, the world's most well-known journal writer. She shared her experiences about being cooped up in an attic hiding during the Holocaust. She began to write after she was given a diary for her 13th birthday.
A journal can be a place to plan for dreams or reflect on this pandemic and all of the changes we have been facing. It can be an emotional account of life's journey or more of a list of daily activities.
With the world becoming more and more digital, a hand-written journal can provide a space to write innermost thoughts without fear of targeted marketing ads popping up.
One of the special features of journal writing is the lack of rules. A child's journal can be created to suit their own personal expression. If long passages of words are not their thing, the pages can also be filled with art, mathematical equations, lists, cut-out pictures, and more. Kids do not need to conform to the lines, and can doodle or draw in it, as well.
Journals bring forth an opportunity to open up our minds to new possibilities and provide a vehicle to play with our inventions. They can be a book full of ideas and notes to be referred to later for school or our own creative endeavors.
Perhaps, to make it fun for children or yourself, introduce it as a craft. Fill the cover of the journal or diary with artistic expression—add sparkles or stickers.
Journals also come in all shapes and sizes. I prefer smaller books because they are different from the size of school books, more personal and I can carry them around more easily. Choosing a cover with brighter colors allows it to be effortlessly spotted when you need to find it.
Another value of journals is to keep a record of events. Keeping track of events and writing down an accurate portrayal can be helpful for future debates with others on a subject or event.
One of the lessons in Harriet the Spy is that a journal or diary may be read by someone you didn't anticipate or expect, for instance, if it gets lost. It's important to remind children their diary could end up in someone else's possession, so they learn to write freely while still being careful about what they write so that it's not hurtful to others.
Whether children choose to journal to explore their feelings or keep track of their own personal history or what's happening in the world today, journaling is a practice that has the power to help us better process our emotions and experience, and that's a valuable practice right now.
Fun tip: Don't mix up the letters for "diary" because you'll end up with "dairy."
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