Are you looking for ideas to help your child develop good writing skills? I’ve been sharing four helpful tools I have found that cover a lot of ground in teaching kids to write. Since our family is larger than the average size, these have been very helpful to me in minimizing the number of lessons while still developing the many sub-categories of writing: spelling, vocabulary, punctuation, handwriting, writing style, etc. In my last post, I covered Habit #3: Narration. Here I will wrap up with the final habit for writing well: Habit #4 Notebooking.
- Reading- Reading quality literature of many genres.
- Copywork- Copying the best pieces from great authors.
- Narration– Reading or hearing a short story, verse, concept, or idea and expressing it back to someone in your own (first oral, then written) words.
- Notebooking– Journaling as a regular habit for life.
Habit #4: Notebooking
The habit of notebooking makes writing personal for kids. It is a way to write that involves their individual interests and experiences. A child’s notebooks are a portrait of the child.
The possibilities for notebooks are endless. They can keep record of daily life, seasonal changes in nature, vacations/trips, gardening plans, craft ideas, sports achievements and goals, poems, drawings, a bucket list, favorite quotes, and more!
Keeping notebooks should NOT be confused with completing worksheets or structured assignments. Although offering a pattern or structure to give ideas can be helpful in giving kids a starting place, the purpose of note booking is purely self-expression.
The habit of notebooking starts with a blank page. To keep a notebook is to record observations, express emotions, share events and achievements, copy favorite authors. It is to put in written form the thoughts that most capture our interest.
There is something about writing an idea down that cements it more firmly in our memory. To write something down is to remember it.
For a deeper dive into this topic, I highly recommend the book The Living Page by Laurie Bestvater. Laurie discusses the “art of the keeper” and divulges her note booking ideas in her “gallery of forms.”
Here are examples of some of the notebooks that some or all of our kids have kept.
Letters One form of note booking that I have practiced with my kids is to write short letters back and forth to them in a small note pad. I fill a page with thoughts, encouragements, etc. and place it in their top dresser drawer where they are sure to see it. They return by writing a personal note on the next page and putting it in my top dresser drawer. It is a way to connect with their dreams, struggles, ideas. It helps them to share personal thoughts that can be hard to say in person. Sometimes it is easier to express thoughts in writing and these exchanges help us do that.
Personal Diary If you have ever kept a diary, you can probably attest to looking back through the pages and remembering things you had completely forgotten. A diary is like a photo album. It is a written account of where you have been, what you have done. Sharing personal feelings and struggles in writing can be a great way of coping with difficulties. Writing in a diary is excellent writing practice because a child can write freely without constraints of proper sentence structure, spelling, etc. which will help them to develop expression of thought.
Nature Notebooking On Fridays, our kids are assigned to write entries in their nature journals. If you are looking for inspiration for keeping a nature notebook, The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady is a must read! I have found that the pattern in this book to be a very helpful tool to guide them in recording nature.
Page 1- Write the Month at the top in beautiful script or creative lettering. Draw pictures of what you see outside during this month. Copy a poem or quote to describe the month.
Page 2- Keep a journal of observations by date. Write the day number and a short (2-3 sentence) description of what you observe.
Sketchbooks A sketchbook does not necessarily develop writing skills, BUT it is a beautiful piece for a child to keep. It shows progress in drawing and observation skills. It is enjoyable for parent and child to look back and remember the ideas and environment that fascinated a child through different stages of growth.
Bible Journal A few of our children enjoy keeping a collection of notes from sermons they hear in church. It is a way to help keep attention during the service and to remember and reflect on past topics.
Other Notebooking Ideas
There are a few notebook ideas that I would like to inspire my kids to try.
-Math Notebooks: As new concepts are learned, a math journal might be helpful to keep charts and formulas handy.
-Bullet Journal: This is great for listing all sorts of things: bucket lists, vacations, gratitude journal, meal plans, exercise log, etc.
-Calendar of Firsts: This can be a seasonal record, noting the first flowers of spring, first time it snows, etc. It could also be a record of first experiences in life, losing the first tooth, first picnic, first garden.
Notebooking is a practice that captures vignettes of a child’s thoughts, experiences, and emotions at different stages of growth. It is a life habit with rewards. Our kids have enjoyed looking back through the notebooks they have kept and I have too! I’d love to hear your notebooking experiences and ideas!