Saturday, 9 September 2017

Journaling with Kids - Fun and Easy Writing Tool



بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم




Many sisters have been asking me how to start Journaling with their kids and how Maimoonah does her journal writings. So I thought of sharing our experiences of Journal Writing so far.

If you have been following my blog you may have known that we started journaling when Maimoonah was around 3 years old. We actually began the journey of journaling with getting introduced to Ramadhaan Journals. These are some of the first journal pages done by her when she was 3 years old.


  

 

It was all about free writing and expressing! So that is what journals are for! Seven years later (she is 10 now), I can see how Maimoonah has continued to nurture this habit of journal writing pretty much independently and today she has so many journals with so many different things written on them. Still, does not stop picking up a notebook or two when going to a supply store!



If you check online you will read overwhelming information about Kids Journaling, what is it, why is it beneficial, what do you need, how to do it, how to start it, what not to do and what to do and of course much more. Relax, don't worry, I do not intend repeating all that is found on the net here, rather I would be sharing in this post what worked for us and how I personally view Journal Writing is benefitting Maimoonah in our homeschooling journey. And if you know us well, then we do not stick to mainstream dos and don'ts when it comes to any concept except Islaamic concepts. Our style has always been doing it our way, Alhamdulillaah! So here we go!

Journal writing can be done with even a toddler. Little Ramlah as small as she can be not even turned one and a half adores her own little books and pages scribbled with crayons and pencils So there is no right age as such to start journaling. Most preschoolers and kindergarteners would love to have a little notebook for themselves too. Primary and secondary students, as well as adults, explore journaling with their own unique styles. So any age is fine as long as interest is there or building up...

Benefits of Journal Writing:

  • Easy tool to motivate writing and expression
  • Less boring method to introduce notes taking
  • Improves grammar and spelling
  • Improves hand writing
  • Enhances written communication skills
  • Improves reading skills as well
  • Digs up the hidden creativity
  • Improves arts and crafts skills
  • Opens up the brains to think out of the box
  • Helps with Scrapbooking and learning the Islaamic Principles in depth but without being stressed or overwhelmed.
  • Helps to keep in mind important concepts in different subjects
  • Helps to explore the creations of Allaah and to be thankful for the blessings of Allaah.
  • A better alternative to keeping low the boredom or the constant whining  "I am bored" of a  pre teen or a teenager 
  • The best way to use the arts and crafts left over materials that hide inside the cupboards for months or sometimes years.
  • One of the ways to understand the personality of the child or the learning style of the child. This helps to facilitate the correct teaching style.
  • Helps to gauge the mind of the child and helps to check if the child is having any unethical or unIslamic concepts or thoughts within her or him. Knowing what is going on in the minds helps as parents to correct the false ideologies and concepts and put things right without making it an issue.
  • Great way to keep records of anything important or for that matter even the homeschooling journey.
  • Solves the problem of having to declutter or throw away the whole heap of papers written and drawn every now and then. Having all the doodling and writing in one book keeps the surrounding tidier and the storing easier. 

What do you need?

Honestly, a notebook and a pencil should do the job if there is enough interest. But it is nice to make the exploration a bit more appealing tempting and adventurous with having some supplies that will motivate the spirit of journal writing inshaa Allaah.



So here are few things we keep handy. Please note I do not buy and store any very expensive materials for this purpose only, rather most of the things that are used for journaling are stuff that we anyway purchase for homeschooling use. The challenge here is to use your creativity and complete the job with what is available. I have listed below supplies that are kind of mostly used and essential and some supplies that are good to have especially for older kids.

  • Any kind of notebooks or even sketchbook. You can choose larger notebooks for little ones especially because their writings may be very big at that age plus they may express more drawing or cutting and paste pictures. Also a bit bigger notebooks will be easier to turn pages, write and to use comfortably for the little hands. Keep in mind that it is always better to encourage free writing at the beginning than guided writing. Older kids may like small notebooks sometimes ruled ones and sometimes blank ones depending on what they would like to journal. So get the notebooks accordingly. 
  • Pencils and pens, fine liner pens, colour pencils, felt pens, ball point pens, fountain pens, brush tip markers, emboss pens
  • Erasers, glues, and scissors
  • Water colours, any kind of paints, acrylic, pastel, poster paints etc
  • Crayons
  • Water colour pencils
  • Decorative hole punches
  • Stencils
  • Post it notes
  • Wrapping papers 
  • Stickers
  • Washi tapes
  • Sellotape
  • Ribbons
  • Yarn
  • Decorative Stamps
  • Popsicle Sticks
  • Coloured papers
  • Sequins
  • Glitter pen/ Glitter / Glitter Glue
  • Feathers, gemstones, any other decorating materials
  • Natures treasures such as fallen leaves, flowers, dried twigs, etc etc
Types of Journal Writing
Now that you have all the supplies what do you write, what kind of journal do you maintain? Well, there are many types journal writings. Here are few options.


While each one of them is done either using guided writing or free writing, we do not worry too much about what type of journals to write. In fact, you can just have one notebook and use it for all of the above. It is all up to the child and depends on the child's interest.


How do you start Journaling
Journal entries can be anything and everything.

  • Just to start off,  begin with a selected notebook and ask the child to write or draw something that happened on that day depending on the child's age. Make sure you allow the child to do free writing. You can gently prompt some topics to write or draw about or you could draw and write instead, eventually, they will get the idea. It can just simple as this


  • You can also use a ready made Journal for kids which include prompts and in a template format just to fill in the information asked and decorate. 
 Image result for smartark my journal

  • You can use a sketchbook and encourage children to write poems.


 



  • They can do some research work and write something they have been fascinated about. Maimoonah loved to learn about the bees and she recorded her findings in the journal. 

  • If your child has the habit of reading the translation or the Tafseer of the Qur'aan daily, then you can encourage them to write an aayah that inspired them on that day. Maimoonah maintains a small Qur'aan Journal for this purpose and uses art techniques she learns at the art classes to make it look nice. 




  • If you have babies, you can encourage your older children to maintain a baby diary. Helps with keeping records of the development of the baby, strengthens the bond between the siblings and in some cases, a nice way to get rid of jealousy building up. 

 

  • You can also get the kids to write short stories with lessons and morals. The ulama differ with regard to writing fiction stories. So whichever opinion you take it is better to get the kids to write nonfiction kind of stories or true stories. Maimoonah has been writing fiction and I take a balanced attitude with regard to this as I see her language skills improved a lot with the story writing but I do remind her to be cautious with writing.

  • The random journal entry can sometimes include a concept studied. We did geography the other day and I saw this journal entry next morning. Isn't it a better genuine way to see how much a child has understood from the lesson than merely doing a worksheet?



  • Finally, it can be something done to entertain a toddler who loves the feel of texture. The yarn is used here by Maimoonah and Ramlah is busy with touching and feeling!


Sometimes I see Maimoonah having a journal with worksheets prepared by her for younger kids and may be for herself as well. 

These are some of the examples I have given and you do not have to do the exact same with your kids. Let the kids explore their own linking in their own ways.


Journaling Techniques
As kids get older especially girls, they may like to add a touch of professionalism into their journals, so if your kids are like this it will be nice to show them some journaling hacks that surface time to time and also different creative techniques to use. You will find plenty here. Few Examples are below. Please mute as  there is music and avoid all the concepts and content that are against Islaam displayed in these videos and in any of the third party links I have mentioned if there are any.








Warning
Here are few things to be aware of

  • Make sure kids do not draw pictures that have souls such as humans and animals as picture making is prohibited in Islaam.
  • Encourage the kids to generally write something beneficial as Muslims are always cautious since they are accountable for all their actions.
  • Most people think personal journals are to be kept private and parents must not poke into their diaries and journals. I do not agree with this. Maimoonah loves that I read all her journals and pleads with to me have a look. And I love to read her journal entries with a cup of coffee mostly after Fajr when the house is silent. I look forward to this as I really do love her writings and cute thoughts! So do not create the private thinking in journal writing, but give them the assurance that you are always there to appreciate their talent and creativity while helping them to be on the straight path when they seem slipping away. But keeping their journals private from other than parents is fine and something that you should respect as well. So make it very clear inshaa Allaah. 
  • If the kids are not interested please do not force them. Even after you motivating with supplies, videos and anything else, they still do not show any interest, then know that this is not their cup of tea for the moment, may be they will get interested later. So keep the doors always open. For the moment look into what interests them and find a solution. 
So that's it. This has been a long post, hope I have not bored you! And I hope I have given you some points and tips to headstart this adventurous journaling journey with your kids. Enjoy! And please do comment below if you need me to share with you any specifics and I would love to hear your journaling journey with your kids too! 

I end the post with Maimoonah's words where she is sharing with you what she loves and benefits from journaling through the years...

"I like jouranaling because of 2 reasons: 1 is because it gives me cooling of the mind and the 2nd is because the next year or the year after next I can find my note books and read them throughly. It gives me insight and makes me see my mistakes so that my next journal entry can be better than the first. And it is a lovely way to glorify Allaah for His wonderful creations and to ponder His blessings opon us."


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