“Awww, Mom! Do I have to? I can’t think of anything to write!” might be a comment that you hear when you mention writing. I have just the thing that will help you with helping your student to write. How about bedtime journaling? My sons would try to stall bedtime as long as possible so I decided to use this to my advantage.
Several nights a week I would put a small journal on their pillow with a question they had to answer. It couldn’t be one or two words or sentences, but had to be 3 or more sentences. (See, paragraph writing is taking place! Tricky, huh?) After the entry was finished it was to be placed on my pillow so I could respond to them. This created great dialog between us and provided bonding opportunities too. Sometimes we had issues that came up during the day so I would make that one of the journal entry prompts. They could express their emotions without having to talk about it. I didn’t do this often as I believe talking about things is best, but this is a great way to get things out in the open too.
I encouraged my sons to ask me questions too. I wanted my boys to see they weren’t alone in this and writing can be fun. They could write a question after they finished answering my question.
Journal writing is quite simple and will cost you very little. If you are concerned about bedtime stretching too long, cut the time off if need be. What a great dilemma to find yourself in, don’t you agree? 🙂
So, ready to give it a try? Stick with it and you will see results. Let’s get started! First, buy a spiral bound set of index cards or a blank journal. Next, add a fancy pen or marker to it. Then, explain to your child what you are going to do. Lastly, begin! Leave the journal on their pillow and look for the journal in your room the next day. Set the guideline/expectation that the journal is to be put in your room (on your pillow if you like!) completed the next morning so you can read it and respond or write the next question in the journal for them. Don’t write questions out ahead of time in the journal so you can keep an element of “mystery”.
Do you need help coming up with topics? Here are some to get you started. Always have them answer why or explain, otherwise you will not get them to write more than one sentence!
What is your favorite___________________ (animal, scripture verse, food, toy. etc.)
What was the favorite part of your day?
If you could do anything at all, what would it be?
What is one thing that makes you happy? Sad?
You might need to give an example of what you are looking for so you could start an entry question like this:
My favorite color is red. Can you tell? I have a red kitchen, a red clock, a red iPad cover, and the best reason of all, I have a redheaded son, y-o-u! Red makes me feel happy on days when I am grumpy and gives me energy on days when it is cloudy. What color do you like the most? Write at least 3 reasons.
Name three jobs you might want to do when you are an adult.
Can you tell me one place you would like to visit and why.
Today we studied _____________________. Tell me what you thought was interesting about it.
When we watched the movie, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, did you think the creature the crew battled in the mist was scary? What do you think they should have battled? Of course you can do that with any movie and make a spcific question that pertains to the movie.
Write a different ending to the book we just finished.
Tell me one thing you would wish for if you could.
What is your favorite toy?
What do you like about _________? (sibling, friend, friend, grandparent, etc.)
How can we help ___________? (someone who is having a difficult time)
What super hero would you like to be?
Today you and your brother were fighting over ____________________. Can you tell me why and how can we handle it differently?
Write one commandment each evening and have your student tell what it means in their own words. The next night you can have them draw a picture that illustrates it. Continue until you finish all 10. You can do that with any Bible story of your choosing.
For older students you can go into deeper topics of discussion and it doesn’t have to be left on their pillow. 🙂 I have listed some general ideas here, but if you would like more help let me know and I can write out specific topics.
*Discuss characters from books
*Discuss themes of books
* Talk about current events
* Possible plans for high school, college
* Hobbies, interests
If you have questions to add, please do as that always helps others.
I love this… and I love the extension writing ideas you gave for us. I have since started this with each of my girls and we leave it on each other’s pillows. our “conversations” are priceless. Sometimes writing is easier when sharing than talking.