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Journaling Keeps Kids on Track Over Fall and Winter Months

November 10, 2023

By: Kendall Hunt RPD Editorial and Development Team

This time of year, we make plans for the late fall and winter seasons and there is no better time to inspire and introduce your students to the positive benefits of journaling. Overall, journaling can be a valuable tool for personal development and academic success in school-age children.

This year, try a creative solution: vacation or travel journals. These can take on many forms, from simple paper packets to online Google Folders where students upload pictures, and their work can be as in-depth or as relaxed as you like. These journals guide students to learn through their real-life experiences, not through static worksheets. They can develop first drafts and outlines for future projects. What great research!

This is the time of the year that students and teachers reunite with family and enjoy unstructured free time. However, it’s important to keep kids’ skills sharp over these holiday breaks. Family traditions, travels, and other vacations or playtime activities can help children practice academic and social-emotional skills, and a vacation journal can help families make the most of those opportunities while making everlasting memories together.

Below are four reasons why journaling can have a positive impact on students of all ages.

      1.   Improved Writing Skills: Regular journaling helps children practice and enhance their writing skills, including grammar, spelling, and vocabulary. Concentration and focus can improve academic performance.

      2.   Self-Expression: Journaling provides a safe space for children to communicate and express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, helping them develop emotional intelligence and self-awareness. Writing in a journal is a         cathartic way for children to release stress and cope with challenging situations.

       3.   Organizational Skills: Maintaining a journal can improve organization and time management as children learn to set goals, plan their day, and track their progress, fostering a sense of responsibility and accomplishment. Journals serve as a record of personal growth and memorable events, allowing children to look back and see how they’ve changed over time.

       4.   Creativity and Imagination: Journaling encourages creativity and imagination through storytelling, drawing, and exploring ideas while reflecting on experiences, which can lead to better problem-solving and decision-making skills.

This brings up one important point: when assigning vacation journals, it might be wise not to include writing prompts such as “my favorite holiday gift” or “the coolest place I traveled.” Such prompts can inspire feelings of inadequacy when students who didn’t travel or receive expensive presents compare their own answers to their classmates’. Instead, make it about learning experiences that many kids can have, keeping activities open-ended so each family can find their own way of developing them.

NOTE: If families are traveling, have students draw representations of a map leading to their destination to encourage them to be the pathfinders for their families. This increases students’ independence and geographic skills.

These activities aren’t just for classroom teachers. Homeschool parents taking a break from typical school routines, and even parents of children in traditional school settings, may find ideas here. The important thing is to keep kids thinking while still relaxing and appreciating time with loved ones.

How will you encourage students to stay sharp over the seasonal breaks?