Summer is an important time for kids to relax and experience things only available during these summer months. However, continuing to engage your child’s brain muscles during this down-time is still important to avoid the well-documented “summer slide” and help them quickly get back on track come September.
One of the easiest ways to keep the creative juices flowing is for your child to keep a summer journal. Children of all ages can practice journaling; very young children can draw pictures of their experiences, elementary-aged children can practice their penmanship and older children can work on structure and exploring ideas deeply.
There are countless benefits to journaling. The practice helps children process what they have seen or done throughout their days, which promotes deeper thinking, builds confidence in the writing process, and reduces stress and anxiety. For those who may be applying to schools in the fall, beginning to think and write about themselves is a wonderful way for children to prepare for school applications and interviews.
Here are a few tips to help you and your child begin a summer journal practice:
Let your child choose their own journal and special pen just for journaling.
Set expectations from the beginning. Let your child know that this is something you are going to do regularly throughout the summer.
Join in the quiet time! Journal along with your child or pick up a book and find a cozy spot where you can be quiet together. We all need a little down time!
Bring journals along with you on trips! Travel inspires new thoughts, ideas and questions.
Some children are happy to come up with their own topics. However, if they get stuck, Lakeshore Learning posts a free calendar of daily writing prompts for younger children (though many of the topics can be used for older kids, as well). Here are a few more suggestions of brainstorming ideas that are appropriate for all ages:
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
Describe your favorite spot in your home.
What is a challenge you have faced and how did you deal with it?
Write about a character from a book you have read with whom you identify and why.
What is something you are worried about? Why?
What is one thing you would like to learn to do? Why?
Let them have fun with it; children are wildly creative, and the possibilities for topics are endless. Remember not to force certain writing topics. If your child has something they want to write about, let them!
There are no right or wrong answers in a journal. It is a place to express thoughts, questions, feelings, anxieties and joys.