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18 Benefits of Journaling for Students (and Teachers!)


Chances are good you’ve heard rumors that journaling is good for your mental health. Turns out, it’s absolutely true! In fact, there are a lot of benefits to journaling—for kids, teens, and adults. Find out why you should encourage your students to journal on a regular basis (and consider starting a journal for yourself too!).

1. Journaling strengthens handwriting and typing skills

Tablet showing a two-page spread from a person's digital journal

Source: donnas_journal89

Sometimes, it’s not so much about what they’re writing, but that they’re taking the time write at all. At its most basic level, journaling is a writing activity. Whether kids write in notebooks or type in a digital journal, they’ll improve those important fine motor skills.

More to Explore: 25 Handwriting Exercises & Ways to Improve Fine Motor Skills

2. It develops written communication skills

Composition book called Mommy and Me, with a page explaining that a parent and child will use this book to write messages to each other, demonstrating that improving communication is one of the benefits of journaling.

Source: @childcareforlife

Dialogue journals can be a really clever way for students to communicate with their teachers or parents. Each takes turns writing an entry, asking questions or continuing a discussion. It’s a low-stakes way to have important conversations.

More to Explore: How Dialogue Journals Build Student-Teacher Relationships (Cult of Pedagogy)

3. Journals provide a place to collect information

Page from a student's journal with notes about English rhetoric

Source: @madsjournaling

In addition to personal journals, students can create journals for different school subjects. They’re more than just a place to take notes during class. These journals also provide space for questions as they study, research they do, charts and diagrams, and other ways for students to process relevant information.

More to Explore: Graphic Organizers 101: Why and How To Use Them

4. Writing in journals sharpens memory

A colorful page from a personal journal, with details about the day and things to remember

Source: @readandplan_with_jaclyn

When students use journals to jot notes for future reference, or spend time writing about their experiences, they’re improving both their short-term and long-term memory. The more details they add, the more benefit they’ll see.

More to Explore: 5 Activities To Help Students Improve Their Working Memory

5. Journals can keep kids organized

Bullet journal pages divided into squares , with center text reading "currently happening in life"

Source: @bujobybetty

For many, organization is one of the primary benefits of journaling. Kids can make schedules, plan for projects, note any deadlines or important dates, and more. Bullet journaling is especially popular for those who need more organization in their lives.

More to Explore: Why You Need To Start a Bullet Journal for Students (Diary of a Journal Planner)

6. Journal writing encourages creativity

Providing a creative outlet is one of the benefits of journaling, as demonstrated by this double-page spread decorated with drawings and stickers

Source: @strwberiznpaper

Journaling can be about more than just writing. Encourage students to add color, sketches, decorations, stickers, and even clippings to their pages. In addition to making the experience more fun, it allows students to see their journals as something truly personal.

More to Explore: 40 Ways To Make Time for More Creativity in Your Lesson Plans

7. Journaling reduces stress

Page from a personal journal with illustrations and notes about how reducing stress is one of benefits of the writer's journaling time

Source: @vee.pablo

Study after study has shown that writing down your thoughts can offer instant stress relief. In fact, it’s one of the most recommended activities for dealing with stress, at any age.

More to Explore: This Free Mindfulness Journal Will Bring Some Calm to Your Secondary Classroom

8. It can even improve immune function

Student writing a journal entry using a tablet and keyboard

Source: @boomtasticusa

Perhaps one of the most surprising benefits of journaling is the fact that scientists now believe it can help keep you physically healthy! Reducing stress keeps your body in top-notch shape, enabling it to better fight off all those nasty cold and flu germs that infest every school come winter.

More to Explore: 13 Ways To Boost Your Immune System When the Whole School Is Sick

9. Journaling helps deal with negative thoughts and worries

A page from a journal with large text reading Hard Times Will Pass, an illustration, and smaller text

Source: @diyjournaling

It’s no secret that kids these days seem to have more worries than ever before. As schools embrace mindfulness and encourage students and teachers to prioritize their mental health, journaling can provide a concrete way to support those efforts.

More to Explore: 20 Ways To Help Students Who Struggle With Anxiety

10. It clarifies thinking

Two page spread of a journal, with illustrations and text.

Source: @ninaigugal1000

When kids write their thoughts down and then review them, it can help them think more clearly about difficult subjects. This allows them to make better choices and feel confident in their decisions.

More to Explore: 50 Higher-Order Thinking Questions and Stems to Challenge Students

11. Journaling regulates emotion

A page from a bullet journal with an illustration of a "mood lightsaber" and color scale key. Regulating emotions is one of the benefits of journaling.

Source: @art_by_resa

As students use journal writing to clarify their thoughts, they can also identify and understand emotions. They can separate fear from anger, or determine what’s really causing their general anxiety about life. A mood tracker can help with emotional regulation, revealing patterns they might not otherwise recognize.

More to Explore: 18 Zones of Regulation Activities To Help Kids Manage Their Emotions

12. Writing in a journal can boost your mood

Page from a journal detailing things the person is grateful for that day

Source: @seoulsoul.linn

Perhaps it is not surprising that after kids write about their worries, stresses, and emotions, they tend to feel better! Journaling allows them to leave some of that behind on the page, understanding they can return to it later if they need to.

More to Explore: 15 Ways To Bring More Positive Language Into Your Classroom and School

13. Journaling helps kids prioritize

A journal page with purple highlighted lines, reading Why are your habits important to you? List them.

Source: @innercece

Kids, especially teens, tend to have a lot going on in their lives at once. By high school, they’re expected to manage many of those items more or less on their own. They need to learn how to prioritize tasks and manage their time well. A journal can help them determine which items need higher priority and make smart plans for their time.

More to Explore: 24 Life Skills Every Teen Should Learn

14. It builds self-confidence

A photograph of a young woman, next to a journal entry discussing self-confidence

Source: @spitgutzz

Countering negative self-talk is hard for many people who find it easier to believe bad things about themselves. Reflecting on their positive attributes in a journal can help kids overcome those negative thoughts. Then they can spend time writing down positive self-talk instead.

More to Explore: Free Poster: Positive Self-Talk for Teens

15. Journals are a way to set and achieve goals

A page from a journal used as a habit tracker for vitamins, hydration, sleep, and more

Source: @melhasplans

Habit trackers are common in bullet journals, but anyone can use them. The concept is simple: Set a goal and measurement intervals, then simply check off the box each time you complete it. This holds students accountable and gives them a way to review their progress over time.

More to Explore: How To Do Goal Setting With Your Students This School Year

16. Journaling supports critical thinking

Journal pages showing a collage of headlines and thoughts about the American Dream

Source: @etudeschools

Journals are a place to analyze and evaluate information, writing down your own questions as you work to form an opinion. Kids can use journals to prepare for school projects, or simply to give more thought to topics that interest or concern them.

More to Explore: What Is Critical Thinking and Why Do We Need To Teach It?

17. Journaling sparks inspiration

The cover of a diy book called My Kindness Journal

Source: @teachwithscience

Encourage students to review their journals from time to time. They might find new ideas for creative projects, goals they’ve forgotten about, or reasons to feel proud about the progress they’ve made!

More to Explore: 80+ Motivational Quotes for Students of All Ages

18. Journals give kids an outlet

A student's handwritten journal page with their thoughts about how they're ready for winter to be over and spring to come.

Source: @dailyfieldwork

At their very root, journals are intensely personal. Teachers should avoid insisting on reading every page, as this can negate many of the top benefits of journaling. Let students use them as a personal outlet, a place to say whatever they like. From time to time, teachers might ask students to share a page or two, but don’t be afraid to simply set aside time in your schedule for kids to journal however it feels right to them.

More to Explore: How To Create and Use a Calm-Down Corner in Any Learning Environment

What benefits of journaling do you notice with your students? Come share your thoughts in the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, 100 Morning Meeting Questions To Start the Day Off Right.


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