In the first few years of elementary school – kindergarten and first grade – teachers use The Journal as a way to encourage reading and handwriting skills.
Each day, or every other day, or whenever, depending on the teacher, the kids write a few words or a sentence, and draw a picture. It’s easy. Those who love to draw enjoy it.
However, he enjoys making up stories.
So every summer, we use The Journal. It helps to brush up on those handwriting and compositional skills. Sometimes, we include vocabulary words, as well. And he isn’t losing ground during the long break.
After a while, I noticed a lack of pictures. At a young age. When asked about it, he admitted that he was having trouble drawing, and that the pictures didn’t look right to him. So we bought some Learn-to-Draw books – they’re available everywhere, on every topic – and set him a daily goal of drawing at least one picture.
So every day, he wrote about whatever he felt like, and when inspiration ran dry, what happened that day or earlier in the week. And he included a picture – whatever caught his interest in the drawing books – that sometimes did and sometimes did not match the story.
Several years later, I now own a treasure. His Summer Journal shows a progression in handwriting, reading, vocabulary and composition. It also brings a smile to my face whenever I leaf through it. If I’m down, all I have to do is look at those bright, happy pages.
Oh, and my son’s handwriting skills improved. He doesn’t fear drawing anymore. And he stopped resisting teachers when they insisted on journal work.
At this point, I should mention that I can’t draw at all… I have some very talented friends and family members, but I’m hopeless. There are additional resources out there, like Art Made Easy (in my links), and textbooks galore on drawing.