By Meredith Cavallero, Primary teacher
At The Harley School, our educators are constantly seeking innovative ways to nurture young minds. At the heart of this endeavor is the development of classroom routines that foster creativity, expression, and communication. One such routine that has become a staple in our Primary classrooms is the “Weekend Journal.”
The Power of the Weekend Journal
Every Monday, children eagerly dive into their Weekend Journals, recounting tales from their weekends.This isn’t just a simple recounting of events; it’s an exercise in reflection, memory, and prioritization. What did they find most exciting or noteworthy? What story do they want to share with their peers?
The beauty of this exercise is its inclusivity. Every child is a writer, regardless of their current ability to form letters or words. We emphasize that writing is essentially “telling on paper.” Whether it’s through pictures or words, every child has a story to tell.
The Multifaceted Process of Writing
Writing is more than just putting pen to paper. It involves a myriad of skills, from understanding the concept of a weekend (calendar skills) to sequencing events and reflecting on personal experiences. When a child says, “I did nothing over the weekend,” we challenge them to think deeper. After all, even spending a weekend morning snuggling in bed with a favorite “stuffy” is an experience worth sharing!
Parents can play a pivotal role in this process. Engaging in reflective conversations on Sunday evenings, discussing the events of the weekend, and using descriptive language can prepare a child for their Monday journaling. This way, when they sit down to write, they’re not just starting from scratch; they’re recounting a story they’ve already processed and considered.
The Evolution of a Writer
Writing is one of the many ways we communicate and, in its most basic sense, writing is telling something on paper. We are all writers; and we start this process on the very first day of school, asking children to put writing tools to paper and express an idea. Many children think that if they cannot write letters or words that they are not writers, but we work hard to help them understand that there are many ways to express an idea on paper.
When a child sits down to write, they will have an idea to share and also need to be able to focus on the physical skills involved in writing. They will need to implement many small motor skills to manipulate the writing tools and share their ideas. Some of them are just learning how to hold a writing tool and plan how they will get their idea to fit on the paper. They may draw a picture to share their thoughts and will need to include details that go along with their idea. As they begin adding letters, words and sentences, they have to track the lines with their eyes, think about letter sound relationships, and visualize familiar words to spell them conventionally. As they delve deeper into the world of writing, they begin to grapple with complex concepts like high-frequency words, letter-sound relationships, and sentence structures. Each child will make use of these skills at their own pace and we will continue to create opportunities for them to practice and experiment with them throughout the year.
The Interplay of Reading and Writing
Reading and writing go hand-in-hand. Both are grounded in language and the ability to communicate. While some students may excel in one over the other, both skills are rooted in language and communication. As students progress in one, it often bolsters their abilities in the other. The key lies in exposure to rich vocabulary, diverse literature, and ample opportunities for expression.
Creativity in Writing
Finding your voice is an important part of being a writer. This includes figuring out what you want to tell—and then how to share so other people can make sense of it. For five-year-olds there is the creativity of what you include in your drawings that you use to express your stories, for Grade 1 students, they will have learned more of the “mechanics” and are able to be more creative and expressive with their written words.
Writing is woven into every subject, such as science or social studies, when we take notes. Students need to think about, “What do I want to include? What’s important to me?” so they can share this information with others.
Skill-Building Together at Home
Looking to support your child’s writing journey at home? Read a book together and talk about it! But before you begin reading, ask your child to tell you what’s happening in the illustrations. As you are reading, have “What if?” and “Why?“ questions about the story ready to help them expand on their initial thoughts. You can also ask them to verbalize connections they recognize in their own life with the people and events in the story.
Learn more about The Harley School’s unique Primary program for K and Grade 1 students by contacting enrollment.