Is entering kindergarten for the first time a scary and thrilling prospect for your child? Here's an activity that gives your child a way to articulate his thoughts about the new school year. Create a back to school journal! Decorate and personalize a notebook, then set aside time once or twice a week to discuss and write down the questions and feelings your child has about school.
Aside from reinforcing reading and writing skills, you'll be getting the chance to openly communicate with your child. And by letting him jot down his fears, hopes, and expectations, he'll be practicing a positive method of self-expression that he can use in years to come. Plus, you'll have a keepsake that will last forever!
What You Need:
- Spiral-bound notebook
- Decorations for the notebook like glitter, glue, stickers, pictures, etc.
- Slips of paper for questions
- Pen or pencil
- Small paper bag
- Clear tape
- Optional: Snack and journaling juice
- Optional: Door hanger
What You Do:
- Write 10 to 20 questions for your child to answer on slips of paper, and place in a small paper bag. Remember, you want to explore his feelings and help him understand what to expect. Some sample questions:
- What do you think the first day of school will be like?
- What do you think you will learn this year?
- What is one thing you would like to do this year?
- What is one thing you would like to learn in school this year?
- Will mommy be driving you to school, or will you take the bus?
- About 3 weeks before school starts, help your child select an appropriate yet snazzy notebook to use as a journal. Encourage him to decorate it with markers and his favorite art and stickers.
- Select a time of day, once or twice a week in which your house is relatively peaceful. Set 10 minutes aside as “official” journaling time.
- At the start of each journaling session, begin by helping your child write his name, the day of week, and date at the top of the page.
- Ask your child to choose 2 to 3 questions from the bag, leaving the others as a special surprise for next time.
- Read and discuss one question together. Talk about his thoughts, encouraging questions and gently dispelling any myths.
- Have your child tape the question in his journal, and then help him record his answer below it. It's unlikely that your child will be able to write much himself, but you can record his answers for him, and let him help with pictures or new words he'd like to add.
- Repeat this process for each question.
- Optional: Make his favorite snack and special “journaling juice” during this time, and hang a sign on the door that says “Do Not Disturb, Journaling Time!”
While you’ll do most of the writing, encourage him to practice forming letters, learn new words and express himself by drawing pictures. When school starts, tuck the journal away for safe-keeping and revisit it once he's had a few months of school under his belt. Or continue the journaling process even after the school year begins.
If he likes journaling, you can even make this an annual tradition and have him write at summer's end about what he looks forward to and what he wishes might happen in the upcoming year.