When I turned eight I was given the best gift any creative child could have ever received.
This gift became a creative and emotional outlet, a mental playground, and like a best friend.
What was this gift? A journal.
If you have a creative child, have you ever considered giving them a journal? Here is why I think you should, and how to encourage journal keeping.
Why and How to Encourage Journal Keeping in Your Creative Child
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Teach Your Child the Beauty of a Journal
When you give your child a journal or a simple notebook, tell them all the things they can do with it. Help them to see that this book is truly there’s and that you wont’ be reading it.
Give them some ideas on what they can do with a journal:
- They can capture ideas and secrets with words or pictures
- They can describe their lives
- They can share their favorite things
- They can list their possessions
- They can log their daily life
- They can explain their opinions and the injustices they suffer
- and, of course, use the pages to draw pictures or write poems and stories.
- Encourage them to write whatever they like, and whatever you do, don’t read it without their express permission and don’t censor them.
Don’t Read or Censor Your Child’s Journal
The first line in my very first journal that I wrote at the age of eight was: “Tyler B said my dad is a bum.”
My mom read it as I wrote it and told me not to write about that. She told me that I should write about something more meaningful and special. She told me that journals are for creating a record for our posterity and that we should treat it reverently.
Well, that’s one way to use a journal, but I had more pressing needs. Like understanding why the heck Tyler B was lying about my dad!
I followed my mom’s advice for a few years and saved the pages of my journal for recording the rare and precious moments of life like my brother’s baptism, my sister’s wedding, or getting a new pet.
But had I been given more freedom? Who knows what wild and funny things I would have written as a child.
A journal in the hands of a creative child can be a place for them to explore and make trodden paths in the jungle of their minds. Please, give them the freedom to do so. Nothing imbues creative works with more poignancy than being an honest expression of what the creator is truly feeling and thinking.
If they someday want to create a memoir or autobiography for posterity and others to read they will have plenty of notes to work with and edit.
Give Them a Journal, Not an Assignment
When you give your child a journal, encourage them to fill the pages with any and every thing and let them be free to use it when and where they need to. Creative thinkers may write in a journal five times every day for a whole year and then not at all for 2 years before they pick it back up again.
Just knowing that a journal is an option is enough for us.
When I began my journal at age 8 I wrote in it about 20 pages until I turned 12 and then quickly filled 100 pages with the scrawlings of my pubescent troubles.
In junior high I had no other person with whom to vent openly and expressively with. I needed to try and make sense of my world, so I turned to my journal. I wrote about mean girls, cute boys, things that made me cry, poetry about flowers and stars, and angry unsent letters.
My journal was my safe space, my outlet, my record of artistic expressions.
My journal became an extension of myself. I wrote in it when and where I needed to and that was the entire purpose.
In the last 25 years I have written and drawn in over 26 notebooks, sketchbooks, and binders. I currently have a personal journal and a writer’s notebook where I write ideas for my novels and short stories.
Journals and sketchbooks are invaluable to the creative mind and they can help your child develop creative habits that will serve her the rest of her life.
If you have a child with a creative mind, please give them a journal. It may just be the best money you ever spend on them.