4 great ways to encourage journaling

Teaching writing to children

Donnalyn Yates, author of Kids Writing Journal – Writing Prompts to Stimulate the Imagination, is a former teacher and a popular educational consultant and speaker at teacher conventions. She is also a strong advocate for teaching writing to young children.

When introducing journaling to your child at home, Yates suggests the following:

1. Begin with drawings.
After discussing the picture with your child, suggest words they could add that express emotion, like “ouch” or “happy”. This gives the child the idea that words convey feelings too and can be used in their journal.

2. Use writing prompts to stimulate children’s journal entries. Here are some examples from Yates book:

  • Dr. Seuss wrote “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.”
  • When you grow up, what kind of person would you like to be, and where would you like to go? If you don’t know, make up something!
  • “Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.” (Abraham Lincoln)
  • “Being true” means doing what is right. What would you do if you saw a friend cheating? Report it, talk to the friend, or do nothing? By writing about a problem, it helps the child define their own reaction.

3. It’s important for children to have a personal journal at home where they feel safe to express what is going on in their life. If this is started early, it will be their natural expression. Parents can always ask if their child wants to talk about any of their writing or if they can share journal entries together.

4. Teens need privacy for their journal writing. Encourage them to write you a letter if they are uncomfortable about talking about a subject. If the writing process is started young, this will be a natural progression.