Parents often ask me, “What is the one skill that I should teach my child?”, and I can never think of any one such skill so over the last 7 years, I have always responded with different answers, like empathy, compassion, adaptability and so on.
I started my journey in 2022, with journaling. I started writing a lot about what i was thinking and remembering. I wrote about my visions, from the past, present and future.
Later that month when my husband and I were in New York we spent 3 hrs in Barns & Nobles choosing different journals for our friends and family. We made a resolution that we would stop gifting wines, alcohol, cakes etc on special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. Instead we would gift them a journal, with a small message. Later sometime a friend who received a journal from us for his birthday described it as , “A gift that keeps on giving.” .
This year as we celebrated our 8th anniversary we were looking back at the year and how much journaling our thoughts helped us put together our ideas and visions. So we decided to make it an annual ritual to journal our adventures for the upcoming year, things we want to do together, places we want to go, people in our lives that we want to thank etc etc .
As all this was going on, I had a thought cross my mind. The moment my son starts to express himself through writing, I want to inculcate a habit of journaling, and not the temporary, phased journaling that happens on one vacation for a school project. We do many writing workshops for children at Grooming Tales. A lot of parents realize that writing is an important skill to develop, be it in any form, whether it is writing a story or some form of creative writing. In my history of working with children for 7 years, I have never seen this last for most children. It is usually a phase where they move on from one workshop to the next and sort of chase the next best skill to learn.
There are very few children who carry it with them into adulthood. I remember journaling a lot as a child myself. I had this secret diary with a lock on it, and I kept the key in a place I thought no one would find it. Every night I would pen down all my thoughts on it. How my day went, some things that I wouldn’t want to share with any one etc. It was my think aloud platform. I know a lot of children did that back then and even now. It’s hard to recall when and where it stopped, and why? If I had to make a guess, I believe as I went to higher grades there were a lot of other priorities to my time than writing a journal, all those late nights were now spent studying or chatting with friends. All in all it didn’t seem like the most important habit to continue with, and OH! How wrong I was !
This last year has been a pure delight and full of clarity as I have re-picked up a skill that I developed for a brief period in my childhood, and every time I go back to my journal, I have new ideas and new plans that come to mind. It is amazing how sometimes one word or a simple phrase that you have penned down, can give way to a chain of thoughts and ideas.
So if there was something called “A skill of the year” that children should learn, ‘Journaling’ would definitely top as the skill to pick up this year, if your children haven’t already done that. I would say it doesn’t have to be just something your children learn to do, rather something you could do as a family also. At the same time we shouldn’t be forcing children to do it, but help them inculcate this habit in a way that they love to pen down their thoughts every now and then, so that they look forward to it and also find value in it. Hopefully these children will carry this habit with them into adulthood.