GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Jan. 25, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — It’s time to put down your screen and pick up your pen as January is National Journal Writing Month – a time to put your feelings, experiences, and ideas down on paper.
The concept of journaling isn’t new, but as teens spend countless hours on their phones and computers, they might find that journaling is just the break they need. Journaling is known to help improve mental health by reducing stress and anxiety. It can also help strengthen writing and communication skills and serve as a source of inspiration. It can be structured as part of a school learning experience or as something you do at home at any age.
Sarah Montpas, the English Language Arts Curriculum Manager for National Heritage Academies (NHA), emphasizes the therapeutic nature of journaling, making it an important tool for helping teenagers express their thoughts and emotions.
“It’s hugely beneficial just to get the thoughts in your head down on paper. It’s cathartic. It’s that release. It’s way easier to write things than it is to talk about them for a lot of students,” emphasized Montpas.
Journaling can be a very personal experience and a great way to learn. Daily journaling in class can help students build their writing skills and develop writing stamina, a crucial skill for timed assessments.
“Writing is just one of those things that you have to do to get better. You can’t read about it and learn and get better. You can’t see other people do; you have to do it to get better,” stressed Montpas.
When it comes to journaling in a classroom setting, she encourages a technique called ‘notebook writing’ where teachers participate in the process alongside students.
“We use it as an opportunity to imitate good writers. So, if they can practice voice, they can practice structure; they can practice a new technique or organizational pattern that they might not be willing to try in a graded piece of writing, but they can try it out in their notebooks to get that practice and develop their skills,” said Montpas.
She finds that journaling also has a positive impact on communication skills. It’s a place where teens can experiment with words and ideas not commonly used in everyday conversation, helping them build their vocabulary. It also helps them organize their thoughts and clarify their ideas.
Montpas acknowledges the benefits of handwriting for improving the flow of ideas but also supports electronic journaling for those who may find physical writing challenging or prefer the convenience of an app.
At NHA schools, journaling is introduced into the curriculum as early as sixth grade, though Montpas suggests it’s okay to start even younger.
“All kids have big feelings, and it’s good to get those down on paper and to learn how to express themselves through writing,” explained Montpas.
If you’re thinking about starting a personal journal, Montpas has some advice.
Start with a journal or notebook and something to write with. Some people prefer a book with colorful pages, while others opt for a regular notebook. There are also books with prompts to help you get started.
Pair it with an Existing Habit:
Partner journaling with an existing habit to make it more manageable. If you already have a habit of reading in bed at night, take five minutes after that to journal about your day. It’s a way to process your day and put it away.
Set a Time Limit:
Start with a time limit such as journaling for five minutes. The goal is to start small and build up.
Journaling doesn’t have to be just words and sentences in paragraphs. It can be images and bullet points. You can journal in all kinds of different ways. The key is to remember there’s no wrong way to do it.
About National Heritage Academies:
National Heritage Academies (NHA) is a network of 101 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 68,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For more information, visit nhaschools.com. To find the nearest charter school near you, use the NHA school finder.
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SOURCE National Heritage Academies