Journaling With Kids
Written By Jessica Van Woerkom from Treasured Families
This month’s theme in the Connections Experiment is “All About Me” and focuses on helping people write their life story with a prompt each day. But how can kids be involved in this month’s theme? They don’t have a lifetime of experiences to document. Enter Journaling. Wait, journaling? For kids? Have you ever tried journaling with kids?
Journaling in its traditional form doesn’t always spark excitement for kids (or adults), but hold up! We’re not talking about traditional journaling today. Why talk about journaling at all? A quick Google search will give you plenty of reasons your kids should be journaling such as increasing their confidence and skills such as writing, language, communication, and art.* Regardless of how beneficial it is, it can feel a bit overwhelming and tedious so I’m revealing my best tips and resources to make journaling with your kids fun and easy! You’ll also find some unconventional ways to journal that are sure to spark some excitement!
Can you imagine the response you would get from your kids if you said, “Hey, let’s sit down and journal together!” It’s probably a lot different than the reaction you would get if you said, “Hey, let’s record some stories together!” And that’s really the point of journaling, isn’t it? To record your stories? So buckle up and enjoy these fun ways to get kids excited about recording their stories. I’m going to start with the most obvious and familiar form of journaling, but don’t snooze or skip by it – the tips I share to make written journaling fun can be applied to any type of journaling you choose to do with your kids!
Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? This is what most of us think of when we hear “journaling” but before you dismiss this type of journaling, remember that writing their stories can be a huge benefit to kids. Here are some tips to make written journaling a special treat to look forward to.
Make it special!
- Have a special drink or treat during or after journaling. This could be a family favorite or something new that the kids have been wanting to try.
2. Give it a special name and/or time. My kids loved doing “Tea on Tuesday,” and we would drink a cup of tea while journaling together.
3. Wear special pajamas or use a special blanket every time you journal together. Save them just for journaling time so it is something unusual and special they look forward to.
4. Journal in a special location. Build a fort, find a closet, go outside, or take a pillow to a special corner!
Use Writing Prompts
Sometimes the hardest part of journaling can be figuring out what to write about! Photo prompts are especially fun for kids. They can choose a picture that sparks their interest or they can roll a dice and write about whichever picture it lands on. Remember, this is supposed to be fun!
Journaling templates are another way to keep things fresh and fun. For everyday journaling I like to use these pages because they give kids space to write and draw. It’s often much easier for kids to write about a picture they’ve drawn than to simply write an answer to a question. These free printables are a fun way to capture holiday memories, and these all about me printables are fun to use on birthdays, the start of school, or the new year.
Give Permission to Be Imperfect
My kids are always asking me how to spell things and it drives me batty. Don’t judge me. I can only handle so many questions a day. Anyway, I had to tell them to just do their best sounding things out and remind them I will probably be able to read it even if it’s not spelled correctly. I reassure them that if I can’t read it when they are done, I will help them spell things correctly. As I read their journaling out loud to them they are amazed that I can read what they wrote even if it is misspelled. It’s a huge confidence booster! (see? Another benefit of journaling)
It’s also helpful for kids to know they only have to write a sentence or two. Of course the older the child, the more they can (and will likely want to) write. Keep it simple and remember the purpose is to have fun recording their stories!
Computer Word Program
If your kids enjoy typing on the computer they might enjoy digital journaling. They can simply type their stories in a word document and save them.
Kids can also type their stories in the memories section of FamilySearch in their personal profile. They will remain private until they pass away or choose to share them with others. FamilySearch has several categories of writing prompts to choose from. When you click on one, it will show several questions that relate to the category you selected. When you click on the question you’d like to answer, it gives you the option to audio record or to type a response. Your entry is then added to the stories section on your personal profile in FamilySearch.
This is great if you need reminders to do digital journaling together. Qeepsake texts you prompts and you can ask your kids the answer to the questions. The free version sends you one text a week, but for a nominal fee they will text you daily and you can choose the time that works best for you to do this with your child. They also have the option to add photos and turn all your entries into a book.
Kids can draw the things that happen in their daily life or important moments and events from their life. Other ideas for drawings are things that inspire them, are important to them, or represent them. They can also use any of the prompts mentioned above to start a drawing journal.
Have kids take a photo a week that represents important things that happen in their life or things that are important to them. You can print them out in a photo journal, save them in a special album on Google Photos, or upload them to your profile on FamilySearch with a caption about why you took the photo and what it says about your life.
Sometimes it is much easier to speak thoughts than to write them. Kids can talk about the things that happen in their life each week or answer specific prompts (you can use the ones above as a starting point). You don’t need any fancy equipment; there are several apps you can use to do audio recordings. Just make sure that you back up your audio files to a safe place so if the app ever discontinues you don’t lose your entries.
Consider uploading important or special audio entries to FamilySearch. The easiest way to do this is with their Memories app. If you’ve never uploaded an audio recording in the app, this short video explains it step by step and it’s completely private until you decide to share it.
This is a fun way to capture your child’s thoughts as well as their mannerisms and facial expressions. You can ask them any of the writing prompts above and record their answers. If it’s hard for them to give answers because they feel uncomfortable in front of the camera, you could ask them questions as they are coloring, eating a mess free snack, or playing with their toys so it gives them something other than the camera to focus on. This is also a fun way to capture them in their natural environment.
Have a journal that you and your child pass back and forth to each other. You can ask each other questions, write what you like about each other, enjoy doing together, etc.
Here’s a list of questions you could start with. (https://meredithamand.com/parent-and-child-journal/)
Promptly Journals has a wonderful parent-child journal that is designed to help you and your child connect and record memories together. This is a great resource if you like guided journaling.
The Connections Experiment has designed a free printable journal that guides you through your life story. Kids can actually complete a lot of these pages and they might enjoy sharing moments from their life so far. Plus, it might be really entertaining to read how they feel about their parents and siblings!
Tips for success
Life gets busy and it’s easy for something like journaling to get pushed aside. Pick a day that works for your family’s schedule and be consistent.
Make it Special
Journaling and recording stories should be fun! Remember those tips I shared under written journaling? They can be applied to any form of journaling and they give you lots of opportunities to form fun new memories!
Mix it Up
If journaling loses its excitement or isn’t what you would consider successful, mix it up! Don’t be afraid to try a new method. Give your kids a couple of options you are comfortable with and let them choose how they want to journal next. Have fun experimenting, and let us know how your kids like to journal by tagging us on Instagram!