You have seen in previous posts that I praise the importance of writing journals. Studies have shown that writing on a regular basis increases test scores, improves processing skills, helps children reason through explanation, and helps them understand story structure. I highly recommend that your children have writing journals no matter their ages.
What is a writing journal?
A writing journal can be as simple as a spiral notebook. A writing journal is a place where your children can explain in words the steps to complete a math problem, retell the events of their day, respond to a prompt (story starters), or write a story. A writing journal is a starting off place. It’s not a place for final drafts. Children can choose stories or ideas that they have started in their journal, and perfect them at a later time into a final draft.
How are writing journals used?
I used writing journals in my classroom on a nearly daily basis. Students were given a prompt and would write about it. Later, when we were discussing a particular writing element (such as interesting beginnings, adding specific adjectives, etc.), I would have them choose a journal entry they had already written, and improve it based on the element we had just learned.
Can writing journals be used for reading?
Journals can also be used as reading response journals. Children can write about what they read in books in their journals. This is perfect when learning about specific story elements such as plot, theme, or setting. Children can respond to what they have read while focusing on the specific element being taught.
Can writing journals be used for math?
Studies have shown that math scores improve when students can write to explain the process in solving a math problem. This can be done at all grade levels. Having to explain the process helps the children more fully understand the concept behind calculation. Plus, some state tests require students to not only solve their math problems, but write to explain how they came to the answer.
Can I use a writing journal with my child who is too young to write?
It’s never too early to start writing. Even if a child cannot write on his own yet, he can still can have a writing journal. The child can draw a picture of a story in the notebook. Then he can tell an adult a story to go with the picture. The adult writes what the child says in the journal. Over time, the adult can help guide the child into deeper stories and descriptions by asking questions such as, “How did she feel when her friend took her ballon?” or “What did his dog look like?”
Where can I find prompts for my children’s journals?
Prompts can be found in books and online. I would also just come up with them on my own. Scholastic has many writing prompt books. You can also find prompts at creativewritingprompts.com.