I've always known that reading to my children is important. In fact, I don't think a day has gone by that I haven't read to my seven-year-old. Of course, I can't say the same for my second and third born (oh, the guilt!). But it wasn't until my oldest daughter, Phoebe, started kindergarten that I began to realize and understand the importance and power of journaling and creative writing, as well.
We were fortunate enough to have the best kindergarten teacher on the entire planet. The students and the parents trailed after her like groupies of a rock star band (and we still do, even though our children are no longer in her class). Ms. Connell introduced my daughter to the concept of a daily writing journal, something that I have no recollection of doing as a child in elementary school. Although in the classroom she mainly wrote about weekend activities and teacher-directed topics, at home Phoebe began to write page after page of journal entries about herself: her vitals (name, address, etc.), favorite colors, favorite animals, toys, books, etc. That's how it started.
Then it progressed to writing her own short fiction stories about a horse who was lost from its owner, a little girl who got a puppy for her birthday, and so on. Phoebe also wrote animal "fact sheets" where she would list out every little tidbit about an animal that she had gleaned from books and her National Geographic children's magazine. She just couldn't seem to write enough!
It's been such a privilege to watch Phoebe's self-awareness and ability to express her thoughts and feelings grow through journaling and writing. It seems to offer her a sense of stability and calm, and a place to integrate her experiences with what she is learning. Phoebe even uses her writing to help express her sorrow and remorse. I can usually count on receiving a sweet apology letter after she's disobeyed or lost her temper. And recently, upon learning that a neighbor was going to be moving, the first words out of her mouth were, "Is it too late to write them a letter?"
Of course, all of Phoebe's stories, journal entries, and letters have become precious keepsakes that I will treasure forever. But more than that, they are helping her begin to unfold her story—dreams, thoughts, and ideas that will help her navigate her personal journey in the years to come.
Suggested topics to get your child writing:
Remember: Out of sight, out of mind. Be sure to have plenty of notebooks and pencils out to remind your budding author to turn off the television and start writing!
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