A Children's Yoga Teacher's Perspective on Journal Writing With Kids by Victoria Tso
Did you keep a diary as a child? Many children do - a secret book to record their feelings and reflections on the day in. It can be an incredibly powerful tool. But without encouragement and regular time, plus an understanding of the benefits, diaries often end up laying untouched under a bed for months at a time.
People are often surprised that I include journaling activities in my children’s yoga classes. This is because, here in the western world, we tend to associate yoga with just the poses (or even workout) which we commonly see in classes. In truth, however, yoga is so much more than this. Learning to know and understand ourselves better is an important part of the yogic tradition and I find journaling to be an excellent way to do this. Writing (or even drawing for younger children) when nobody will look at your work is powerful for children. Often everything they write is assessed. Writing slows our thoughts down and can enable us to understand emotions, desires and fears more clearly. Journal writing has been shown to help children manage their feelings, improve their writing skills and improve communication skills.
But where to get started at home? Here are some of my top tips (and a few resources) to get you going!
- Letting your child choose a journal can be a great way to get them motivated to get started. In my yoga classes we often work on sheets of paper but the children love to store them in a special file or stick them into their own journal. My regular students often bring their own journals with them to class ready for any journaling activities. Children can choose any size notebook or folder for a journal. Some children are more comfortable with lined paper, others with plain sheets or dots. Some children like to have removable pages so they don’t feel the pressure to get it “right” the first time.
- Make the timing of journaling regular so it becomes a part of your routine but mix up the activity. As well as using journal prompts it great to mix up the activities to keep things interesting. I offer lots of journaling worksheets for free on my website innerchildyogaschool.com in the free member area. They can be downloaded and printed to whichever size works before for your child’s journal. My activities often include drawing so they’re great for younger children too.
- Allow children to get creative using different colouring pencils, pens and stickers. There are so many available having some “special” resources just for journaling can make it a more appealing activity.
- NEVER read your child’s journal unless they show you (they usually do). This gives them the privacy to really write down their feelings, work through them, and get the maximum benefits of journaling
- Let it come naturally and lead by example. Although I recommend having a regular time for journaling don’t force it if a child doesn’t want to on a particular day. Modelling journaling yourself will really encourage them to get involved and sets them a great example of how you, as an adult, also need to look after your own wellbeing and mental health. Journaling within yoga class works really well as the children are expecting the activity so I always find engagement is high – many children say it’s their favourite part of class! Take this you’re your own schedule to talking about journal time and having it in your routine so children are expecting to do it. Perhaps after dinner while everyone is at the table or as a quiet screen free activity before bed - it can be just five mins once or twice a week if that’s what works).
I am including one of my journal pages here to get you started, it’s a daily reflections sheet and it can be a great one for children to use regularly in their journal practice.
I hope these ideas help you and your child get started with journal writing. Make sure your journal (and your child’s) work for you. Whether it contains goal setting, mandala doodles, daily reflections or mini monologues doesn’t really matter – it’s taking that time for you to be creative and reflective that matters most!
I’d love to know how you get on, please get in touch with me on email@example.com or find me on social media with the tag @inner_child_yoga_school
Victoria Tso is a specialist children’s yoga teacher, experienced classroom teacher and the founder of Inner Child Yoga School (www.innerchildyogaschool.com). It is her mission to share the benefits benefits of yoga with all children and has an extensive bank of free resources on her website to help teachers and parents share yoga and mindfulness with children.