Keeping a journal has several benefits. To make it more useful, a journal should not just record the things that happen verbatim, it should capture your feelings and emotions about things you experienced. It is also never too early or too late to start. People who are dedicated journal keepers report; reduced stress, more self-awareness as you see what thoughts you have had over a period of time.
The summer is a perfect time for children to start journaling if they have not already. Apart from the benefits highlighted above, keeping a journal improves writing skills because the more you write the better you get. Journaling increases creativity and the ability to tell and recount stories which will come in handy for composition lessons. Lastly if for nothing else, keeping a journal helps children record their activities and experiences over the summer, which they can refer to when they go back to school and are usually required to give an account of their summer holidays. [READ: How to keep children busy over the summer holiday]
There is no rule to journaling but below is a guide to the types of journals children and youths can be advised to start. There is something for everyone. Parents might want to join in as well and can share over dinner or over the weekend.
You write about anything and everything. This should include insights into your thoughts and emotions over the situations that you record. Over time you will likely see a pattern and notice how you have evolved over time. There is nothing like looking back at what you wrote months ago and seeing that you feel very different (or the same) about it now.
Write about the things that you are thankful for on a daily basis. Getting into the habit of being grateful will always serve you well. It is easy to fall into the trap of wanting more and not pausing to take stock and be thankful for things that you do have. Take the focus off material things and be thankful for simple things like waking up, meeting someone who helped you with something etc.
Can include anything that motivates you, it could be a quote or book that inspires you or someone you meet who inspired and motivated you.
This is useful for a particular interest, project or passion that you have. The more you capture the more you see what really matters to you and you get a better understanding on how you feel.
Other benefits of keeping a journal include
- Better writing skills – keeping a journal encourages free writing and increases creativity which transfers into real life situations, for example at school.
- Self-awareness – as you capture your thoughts on a regular and daily basis. The more you understand yourself, you can identify what drives you, your fears and your true desires.
- Motivation – keeping a journal allows you to create and maintain a dialogue with yourself about your goals—what they are, how you plan to reach them and your progress or challenges along the way. Articulating and tracking your goals in writing makes them real and increases your motivation and accountability to yourself.
- Control – researchers have found that writing about what you think and feel, even for stressful or traumatic events can improve psychological well-being and reduce stress. This is because writing and thinking about a problem through your journal can give you the perspective you need to take control of the situation.
Lastly for students writing in their journals is like having a friend they can always talk to. It also helps them to articulate their thoughts and feelings so they can share when they have to.
So while on summer break, let children and students keep a journal of their summer experiences. Let them also keep journals of their interests and their desires. They will thank you at the end of the summer when they are able to look back and appreciate how much fun they had over the summer.