In his classic novel Dracula, Bram Stoker described journaling as “Whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.”
Adults and children often write in journals to record experiences, express opinions, explain reactions, and describe emotions and intentions. Creating a journal entry helps a child reflect on session activities and synthesize new information. Journaling encourages a child to synthesize language structure, vocabulary, pragmatic ability, and emotion knowledge in order to document and share their experience.
Who Can Benefit from Journaling?
Journaling can be adapted for children presenting with a wide range of abilities and needs. Even young children who do not yet read or write can create a journal with proper support.
Journaling may be highly supported or virtually independent, depending on a child’s age and level of development. Creating a journal can validate a child’s experience, enhance their interest in print, and motivate their growth in literacy skills.
Journaling produces a tangible product that a child can choose to share with family and friends.
How to Create a Journal
1. Prepare to make a journal entry.
Throughout the intervention session, alert the child to concepts and events that could be recorded in the journal (“We’ll want to remember that for your journal.”)
2. Select the journal format.
Determine how the child will make the journal entry and provide required supports. Paper or digital formats may be employed. Limits in time and writing ability often determine that the child dictate most or all of the entry as the clinician writes.
Provide cues and prompts to highlight important events and concepts presented. Stress the child’s ownership of the journal and encourage the child to express their emotions and opinions.
3. Write, read, and edit.
As the child dictates the journal entry, the clinician writes and may provide cues, questions, or prompts to review session activities and emphasize intervention targets. Encourage the child to contribute written words or drawings. Children may enjoy pasting drawings or pictures into their journal entry as well.
4. Review and share.
Read the journal entry back to the child and encourage them to add to or edit the entry as they choose. Compile journal entries from each session into a binder, book, or document to form an ongoing record.
If the child chooses, they may share the journal entry with family members, teachers, or friends. A digital format may be helpful to ensure that all entries are preserved in the larger journal.
In the following video, T, an eight-year-old boy with developmental language disorder, creates a journal entry with his clinician, Rob. Intervention goals for T include several aspects of social communication, including production of language structure, conversational responsiveness, and emotion understanding.
You can learn more about journaling for social communication in our MedBridge course, “Social Communication: Intervention for Children.”