“Jr. Journals,” Ensign, July 1987, 73
When President Spencer W. Kimball suggested, during the October 1978 general conference, that family home evenings were an appropriate time and place “to train young children in the art of writing about their lives,” my husband and I decided to set aside several such evenings for this project.
During a family home evening “journal night,” we gave each child a notebook and pencil. We talked to them about what they might like to preserve in their journals, including pictures, true stories, and mementos, and we reminded them of some of the recent activities that they could write about.
Our young children either did not yet write, or were just beginning to develop their writing skills, so we had them relate experiences to us while we wrote them down. This gave our children experience in speaking, as well as practice in recalling and organizing ideas. We didn’t worry about correct usage—we knew that would come with experience and training—but we did spell words correctly, capitalize letters properly, and add punctuation and linking words to the entries when necessary.
Next, we read the dictated material back to the children. They found this very interesting and enjoyable, and at the same time they practiced their listening skills.
Then we had them copy what we had written down, first making sure that our own writing was legible. Our preschoolers usually did not copy the entire piece, because they were just beginning to develop their handwriting skills and they tired easily.
Soon the children wanted to try to read what they had dictated. At first they spoke from memory, but they gradually learned to recognize certain words, and they developed a positive attitude toward reading in the process.
Our children’s writing skills improved until they could eventually do all their own writing. We still helped with spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and linking words, but we no longer acted as scribes.
By the time our children’s basic language skills were developed, they had also formed a habit of regular journal writing and of reflecting on the events of their lives and on the progress they were making.
We found that heeding the words of our prophet not only brought far-reaching spiritual and temporal blessings, but it also brought us closer as a family.—Rojean Garnica, Seattle, Washington