3 Ways Students Can Benefit From Journaling

Many students, at one point or another, struggle with writing. One of the most effective ways to help improve your writing skills is journaling. Despite its lack of structure or direct instruction, a number of studies speak to the benefits of journaling in multiple skill areas. Students can benefit from journaling in many ways, including stress reduction, motivation, goal-setting, and self-reflection.

Here are three ways in particular that students can benefit from journaling:

Journaling turns unstructured play into learning

The National Association for the Education of Young Children suggests that play is equally as important for learning as traditional academic instruction. The unstructured nature of journaling turns it into a type of play, in which students can explore the effects of:

  • sound and metaphor

  • grammar

  • spelling

  • sentence structure

Journaling as unstructured play allows students to experiment with boundaries without fear of a bad grade, and it gives them a break from intense schoolwork while still stimulating creativity and refreshing learned concepts.

[RELATED: 4 Confusing Grammar Rules Cleared Up]

Young writers can put into practice techniques they’ve learned in new and creative ways; they can imitate stories or authors they admire, or emulate skills and styles they’ve observed from classes and reading. Incorporating sketches, coloring, and other visual arts into journaling can add to the sense of creativity as well.

Journaling can improve self-reflection

Through journaling, studies also show that writing about our experiences, thoughts, and feelings can help lower stress levels, improve memory, and boost problem-solving abilities. Over time, journaling can help students notice patterns in their reactions, and the act of reflecting on and expressing feelings privately can help provide necessary perspective with which to tackle future problems and obstacles. The practice of regular reflection has also been shown to effectively help cement learning.

The time component of journaling additionally provides a good way for students to set goals and mark their progress over the school year. Take time to have your student read through old journals and note improvements, major milestones, and successes in any area.

When it comes to journaling, practice makes perfect

Last but not least: the more students write, the better writers they become. Regular journaling enables students to gain confidence in their writing skills by writing about topics that interest them, writing unguardedly without worrying about grades or how others will react to the work, and developing a writing voice and style through experimentation and repetition. The daily habit of writing can help make essay exams less stressful for middle- and high-schoolers, and for younger students it serves to improve motor skills.

[RELATED: The Importance of Writing Skills]

For students who really dislike writing or don’t know what to write about, simple list-making activities, poetry prompts, “I remember” statements, descriptions of daily activities, and other creative writing activities can be used to spark ideas and interest. If students want to share what they’ve written, parents can help support the unstructured nature of journaling with neutral, detailed observations about the text. For example, if shown a description of a class field trip, parents can summarize the description back to the student and note any uses of phonetics in spelling attempts or other writing techniques and grammar rules learned in class.

While on the surface journaling may seem like a simple hobby, it’s extremely useful in supporting burgeoning writers in skills that transcend the English classroom. Implementing journaling at home or in a classroom is a perfect way to support your students in their emotional and academic growth.

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