Parents often ask me if they should do any “school work” with their kids during the long summer holidays. I think everyone needs a break over the holidays, but keeping up some reading and writing is a really good idea. In addition to reading aloud to your child each night, I suggest helping your child to keep a holiday journal.
Lots of learning happens during school holidays, and a journal is a great way of recording some of that learning and gives your kids a reason to write. It’s also very easy to adapt for different ages of children.
Here are my children’s journal entries for the same day, following our trip to the Australian Museum. Mr 5 is still an emerging writer, just about to start full time school. Miss 7 is a confident and capable independent writer.
(On the holidays I… saw dinosaurs.)
(In the holidays I went to the museum and saw dinosaurs. We went with our friends, Izzy and Mitchell. We went to the minerals witch* was my favourite part of the whole museum. My favourite three minerals are amethyst, sulphur and quartz.)
As you can see, my kids are at very different stages. Here are some tips for writing journal entries at different stages.
- One sentence is enough.
- Keep the same sentence structure. (On the holidays I…)
- Provide big lines for little hands to write on.
- Cut out tickets, brochures, maps, etc to glue in.
- All reasonable spelling attempts are acceptable!
- Ask your child to read back their sentence aloud.
- Give them praise – young writers need confidence.
- Multiple sentences, using capitals to begin and full stop to end.
- Provide lines for writing, and space for illustration.
- Encourage use of specific vocabulary, particularly if new (eg amethyst).
- Help your child to identify incorrect* spellings. (“Are there any words you think don’t look right?” Miss7 identified “favourite” so we fixed it together. She didn’t notice “witch” so I didn’t mention it.)
- Ask your child to read back their recount aloud.
- Give your child specific praise (eg I like the way you remembered to use capital letters for your friends’ names).
Have your kids kept a journal these holidays?