JOURNALING FOR STUDENTS

This article includes FREE printables and resources for Educators.

If you aren’t having students journal in your classroom, now’s the time to consider starting!

Making time for students to journal in the classroom can significantly improve your classroom community. Not only does incorporating a journaling practice in the classroom give you an opportunity to better know and build relationships with your students, journaling also gives your students an outlet to process difficult emotions so they are better able to focus on being present in the classroom. Additionally, journaling can help decrease students’ stress levels, boost students’ self-confidence, and increase their memory.

As an educator, helping your students develop a consistent journaling practice can lead to higher academic scores, fewer behavior disruptions, and an overall healthier and happier classroom community.

When students write and express their feelings, they can reduce amygdala activity, which is the brain’s emotional center; this allows students to better engage their thinking brain. This is why feelings of sadness, anger, and pain are less intense after written out on paper. Help your students develop a journaling practice so they are better prepared to engage with their learning.
Learn more about how journaling can help students (and you!) manage stress in this video.


Journaling and writing about emotions can provide a lot of benefits to mental health. You can help students learn to journal with intention as a means to work through problems, identify issues causing stress and anxiety, and express gratitude.

Here are some of the benefits students receive from journaling:

• The process of expressing feelings through writing activates the sections of the prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain connected to planning, decision-making, and language. This activity in the prefrontal cortex, in turn, decreases activity in the amygdala, the part of your brain most closely associated with feelings of fear, anxiety, and aggression.

• Simply put, journaling helps recognize, process, and manage emotions, especially stress and anxiety.

• Journaling also improves self awareness, which has a positive impact on social relationships.

• Journaling is also shown to improve memory and comprehension.


2. GRATITUDE SCAVENGER HUNT

Have students search their space (this could be their desk, the classroom, or their home as part of a “homework” assignment) and find at least 3 things they are grateful for. Then, have students get out their journals and reflect on why they are grateful for these items. If students are comfortable sharing, allow them to share, but understand this might be quite personal for some students. This is a journaling (and gratitude!) exercise you can do on a regular basis. .



3. “YOUR BEST SELF” JOURNAL PROMPTS

Journaling has many benefits. One of which is that journaling can help students improve their sense of self awareness, which can have a positive impact on social relationships.

Use these journal prompts that encourage students to think about being the best version of themselves.

4. JOURNAL PROMPTS FOR MANAGING THOUGHTS & FEELINGS

Students’ thoughts and feelings are always changing. It’s important for students to know this because when they’re feeling angry or sad, they begin to learn they won’t always feel that way. It will eventually change. Similarly, when students are really happy, they should be grateful for that emotion because it won’t last forever. Encourage students to write to these journal prompts to begin managing their thoughts and feelings.

JOURNAL PROMPTS:

• Think of the last time you were excited (alternatively: worried or sad). How long did that last?

•Reflect on a difficult moment from your past. Now that it’s in the past, was there some benefit to this experience? What did you learn from it?

• Write down the things that are causing stress, fear, and anxiety right now. Once you are done, turn the page, and write down the things that are bringing you joy.



5. JOURNAL PROMPTS FOR DEVELOPING A GROWTH MINDSET

Educators often talk about trying to help students develop a growth mindset and learn that they are able to work through problems and tackle new challenges. Journaling is a great exercise to help students develop that growth mindset. Encourage students to write to these journal prompts to foster a growth mindset. If students are comfortable sharing about what they write, you can use these journal prompts as guides for class discussions as well!

1. MAKING TIME
You have to make time for students to journal. It’s best to establish a routine and choose a certain time on certain days as time for journaling. This models for students that the best way to make journaling a habit is to specially set time aside for it. You also want to make sure to set enough time aside that students feel like they can complete their journal writing. Initially, when students are new to journaling, just a few minutes might be enough time to write about their thoughts and feelings. However, as students become more comfortable with the process of journaling and writing, they will most likely need more time. Include enough time that students can opt to share as well. In in-person classrooms, you can have students share with a partner or with the whole class, and in virtual classrooms, you can spend a few minutes through video conferencing sharing or students can share through online discussion boards.

2. CREATING A JOURNAL
Students will be more invested in journaling if they have the opportunity to personalize their journal. Giving students time to decorate a notebook or add a personalized cover-page to a journal allows students to be more invested in their journaling. For older students, you may opt for them to use a notebook as their journal, while younger students might find it beneficial to compile a journal for them that includes prompts and places to write their responses. Either way, give the students some sort of opportunity to personalize their journal.

3. SHARING PROMPTS
The key to becoming comfortable with journaling, is figuring out what to write about. For students who are not used to journaling, it will probably be difficult to know what to write about without some sort of prompt. While students are new to journaling, consider providing prompts for them. You can have prompts appropriate for whatever age group you are teaching and you can have prompts that encourage students to write about many different feelings and emotions. As students get more comfortable with their journaling, more and more will probably opt to write their emotions without a prompt, but providing a prompt is still beneficial for a lot of students.

4. SHOULD STUDENTS WRITE OR TYPE?
Students doing school virtually or in a one-to-one technology setting can write in a journal or type. Hand writing journal responses often allows the student to process what they are writing more, but typing a journal response often allows the student to get their response out faster. Some students may prefer typing and some may prefer writing, and that’s okay. Both are receiving the benefits that come from journaling. And of course there are some very young students who can’t yet write, these students can still journal and respond to prompts but you can encourage them to do this through drawing.

Journaling is a great opportunity to help your students develop a greater sense of self-awareness, to build stronger relationships, and learn to regulate and manage their emotions. Setting aside just a few minutes a day to journal can significantly improve your students’ emotional health and your overall classroom culture, so get out those journals, and create a great day!