a peek inside the fishbowl

30 Jul, 2013

Guest post: Get your kids writing!

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Guest postings

It’s guest post week here at the Fishbowl! Woot! And we’re kicking things off with Jennifer Perlin. Jennifer publishes a community website called Kids In Kanata that includes a regularly-updated blog. She writes about both the serious and trivial sides of parenting as well as various events going on in the community. Thank for your post today Jennifer!

From as early as I can remember, I liked to write. Recording the events that occurred on a given day in my journal was something that I always looked forward to.

I was about 8 years old when I discovered diaries. Our babysitter was over one night and I started playing with her key chain, enthralled with all the different types of keys she had. The last key I looked at was really tiny.

“What’s this one for?” I asked, completely intrigued by how teeny weeny it was!

“That’s the key to my diary,” she replied.

“Diary? What’s that?!”

“It’s a book where you can write your feelings and your secrets. The key makes sure that it stays locked so that nobody will open it up and read your private thoughts.”

After hearing this explanation, I knew that I IMMEDIATELY had to have a diary. More than I wanted anything in the world! I remember waking my parents up the next morning, informing them that they HAD to get me a diary – WITH A KEY!! It was essential that I had one that very day so that I could write down all my BIG IMPORTANT SECRETS.

Here is a picture of my first entry written in April 1989. I was 8 years old and thought I was the coolest with my new leather diary:


As soon as I got my first diary, writing quickly became an escape and a way to unwind. I remember locking myself in my room regularly to write about anything that was on my mind. Bullies, crushes, fights with my sister and my parents. I liked the fact that it was something over which I had complete control. I could write whatever I wanted, about whomever I wanted, and nobody could do anything about it. It was satisfying to me, watching those pages fill up with words – my words- every day. I also enjoyed reading back through old entries from time to time, and seeing how much things had changed and feeling that I had grown.

Although I wrote only for the enjoyment of it, here have been some really interesting studies on the positive effects of writing, both physical and psychological. Some of the more interesting correlations that have been found in adults include:

  • Improved immune system functioning
  • Reduced absenteeism from work
  • Improved working memory
  • Improved sporting performance
  • Higher students’ grade point average

Over and above the scientific findings with proven positive benefits of writing, here are some additional reasons why I think kids (and adults) should keep a journal:

1. It helps improve written communication skills and the ability to write descriptively. My sister is an English teacher and apparently this is a VERY difficult skill to learn for many children.

2. It is an outlet for making sense of emotions and thoughts. Writing can provide clarity and insight into life’s problems or challenges.

3. It makes you more observant. If you know that you will be writing about your day, you are more likely to take the time to notice all the little things of the day to day that make it special and worthwhile.

4. The bad becomes a “story.” When things in life go wrong, and you’re a writer, you think “well, at least this will be a good story.” It can be a nice positive spin on a negative event.

5. It’s a time capsule that you will have forever. Reading old entries (really old entries) can really bring up latent events and memories.

Now that I am a mom, I find myself appreciating that time capsule I made when I was a kid. It’s pretty neat having a document that allows me to relive some of the feelings I experienced as an adolescent.

Here is an entry from when I was 12 years old:


This particular entry reminded me of those occasional feelings of exasperation and frustration when it came to my mother. Sometimes I really wanted her to talk to me, rather than send me to my room. I’m really hoping that having this insight will help me be a better parent, particularly during those challenging adolescent years!

If you’re worried that your kids will look at you like you’re crazy for suggesting that they do something so old fashioned, don’t worry. I recently came across an article that talked about a journal app called Momento. I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks pretty cool.

Encouraging your child to write starts with discovering the format they are comfortable with and discovering what inspires them. Here are some suggestions to help you get your kid develop a love of writing (pdf). They will thank you for it when they’re older.

Happy writing everybody!

2 Responses to "Guest post: Get your kids writing!"

1 | Louise

July 30th, 2013 at 3:14 pm


This was lovely. I held on to my high school diary for the very reason that I think it will help me navigate those days with my own kids. I need to remember how I thought and felt.

2 | Jennifer PERLIN

July 30th, 2013 at 8:07 pm


Thank you so much! It sure is great to have a reminder of how it felt to be a kid, isn’t it?! :)

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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