It’s been a hard year for young people. COVID has upended their usual schooling and routines. For many, the pandemic impacted their families financially or through the loss of a loved one. In a year punctuated by upheaval and uncertainty, my students at Minneapolis Elementary School in Kansas were left feeling powerless. When students are dealing with feelings of grief and loss, it can be difficult to focus on learning. Classroom journaling turned out to be the antidote for my students.
The benefits of journaling in school are numerous – from improving mental health to heightening academic performance. It seems tailor-made to counteract some of the most devastating consequences of the pandemic on students, such as learning loss and social-emotional trauma.
Classroom journaling has given my students the time and space to tune into themselves and sit with their own thoughts and feelings. We spend so much time teaching our students to analyze the thoughts and feelings of characters they come across in our readings, but this important skill has broader implications. Journaling centers each child as the protagonist of their own story, with thoughts and feelings worthy of reflection.
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