Personal Journaling for You and Your Children

by David Russell, Editor of

We all know that children learn by example so it is of paramount importance that we model for them a life of discipline and virtue. They watch what we do, listen to what we say, and mimic behaviors. With the hustle and bustle of life sometimes we forget to slow down and reflect upon things that matter most, including our children. I have found that journaling is a way to truly sharpen, not only the intellect, but our deeper held values. Incarnating our thoughts into words allows us the opportunity to physically see what we are thinking. Seeing how you actually think can also help you put things into proper context, and even correct mistakes we make in our thinking process.

Teaching our children to love journaling involves a commitment on our part to role model the activity itself. My own mother kept a journal of her thoughts for years and I remember how fascinating it was to watch her sit down everyday and write about various things she had experienced. She always said it was a way to reflect on her life and to focus on things that matter most. I have always tried to model the same values to my own children within the context of honoring God with their minds. I have found that the story of the incarnation of Jesus into human history is a wonderful example of teaching the value of writing words. In John's Gospel, chapter 1: 14 we read that "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" To think that God, though not of a physical substance like ourselves, took on flesh and entered human history. I once heard a theologian say that with the incarnation God wrote Himself in the story. More importantly is the idea of the Word (Jesus) taking on flesh so all could behold Him.

I remember the look on my son Weston's face when I explained how God has given us the gift of language and writing. How we use symbols we call letters to create words to which we attach meaning. I asked him to think about something in his head, but not to tell me. I tried to guess what he was thinking but could not. I then asked him to write his thought on paper so I could see it. He wrote the following sentence. "I want you to take me to get some ice cream." I told him that he had just taken something invisible (though real) and made it visible for not only my own eyes, but for all eyes to see. He responded with a "wow, I never thought about it like that before." I like to use the analogy of the incarnation of Jesus Christ for the more important task of teaching them the eternal importance of understand salvation.


I have found that children respond well to deeper things of this life. Granted you have to put the cookies on the bottom shelf where they can reach them, but if you can do that effectively, they really light up with awe and wonder about life. I'm glad to say that I've helped to create curious, questioning minds in my own children. My oldest daughter is majoring in literature and writing at Central Michigan University and I am very pleased she loves the written word.

Journals are readily available at bookstores, card shops, and office supply stores. I have found with younger children its fun to help them design and make their own journals. This can be done with construction paper, glue and scissors. Smaller children (4 -6 years) don't typically possess the ability to fully express themselves in writing, but I have found that they do much better when they can draw a picture or cut out a shape of things they see around them. This is how you teach children to enjoy journaling in stages.

No matter what method you use in teaching your children to love journaling make sure to stay involved with them. Encourage them to share their ideas with you as they journal. Discussing thoughts and ideas will help you and your children to clarify your thoughts but more importantly focus in on those things in life we most value.

All rights reserved by the author - © March 2004
Permission to reprint is possible, please contact the author for consideration.