Practicing Reflection with Children Through Journaling and Drawing
It’s been a long year since the pandemic changed our ways of life, but one group affected the most by these changes has been children. From experiencing emotions and digesting information they may have never had to before to embracing virtual schooling, their entire lives have been upended in a way that they
might not have the capacity to describe or make sense of. It’s understandable, and certainly expected, for children to need a way to better express and acknowledge what they’re feeling.
The practice of reflection in children can have many benefits, and not just during a global pandemic. According to Colorado State University, the act of reflection—no matter the form it may take—can take experiences and turn them into an opportunity for genuine learning. As children navigate the pandemic and the different life we’ll lead once it has passed, the act of reflection can help them learn more about themselves and the ways they’ve been impacted as well.
Here at Blossom Children’s Media Group, we aim to provide children with stories, activities, and tools that they can use to blossom and become the best version of themselves, which is why we’ve compiled this list of prompts that encourage children to write or draw in reflection of everything that has changed, worsened, or improved over the last year—and all the things they’ve accomplished despite all these changes.
Download the corresponding reflection activity by clicking below!
Prompt #1: Write a story or draw a picture of what your life looked like before. What’s something you miss? What’s something you don’t?
According to Scholastic, journaling and other expressive activities can help children deal with bigger feelings that they might not have experienced or managed before. Taking the step of acknowledging how things were before allows them to take charge of acknowledging how things have changed.
Prompt #2: Now write or draw what your life looks like now. What’s something you dislike about it? What’s something you like?
Adding to prompt #1, this prompt allows children to evaluate where their lives are now and how that makes them feel in an unconstrained way. By asking about something they like and dislike, this gives them the opportunity to think about both the good and the bad of this new world they are navigating.
Prompt #3: What’s something you’ve accomplished during the past year? This can be things like learning to ride a bike, succeeding in school, or learning to play piano.
Despite the way the past year has turned out, there are undoubtedly things your child accomplished during it. This prompt can help them celebrate their accomplishments in a way they might not have been able to depending on what was going on around them. After all, even the smallest accomplishments are bigger because and in spite of the stress and change we’ve all had to endure. This prompt allows your child to take the time to feel proud of themselves—as they should!
Prompt #4: How has this past year made you feel? Happy, sad, mad, something else? Feel free to write what those feelings are and/or draw what they might look like. Be as honest as you’d like. There are no right or wrong answers.
According to the book Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind by Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick, when reflection is implemented in the classroom, students become fully engaged and learn to make meaning from experiences. Over the past year, we know parents have had to take on dual roles of parent and teachers, but this exercise is both teacher and researcher approved. It’ll allow your child to engage in reflection and find meaning while living in such a global, life-upending event.
Prompt #5: Record videos of your daily life. Watch these videos the next day. Either writing, drawing, or speaking to your family members, think about the different things that happen in your life. The good, bad, favorite, dislikes, anything that catches your attention.
Nowadays, we all know that technology is fully immersed in a child’s life, and your child may prefer to record themselves and their lives rather than writing them down or taking notes. But this is still a good exercise in reflection. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, videos can be used wisely in helping your child to reflect on the things they learned from the day before. They can do so by recording different aspects of their lives, maybe while on a walk or playing with a sibling or even when they’re completing homework. The next day, they can watch the videos and see what pops out at them—a lesson they learned in school, a joke a friend told them, how they felt while playing with a sibling. No matter the occurrence, they can practice reflection about the things that matter to them.
Prompt #6: Look to the future. What are some of the things you hope for once the pandemic is over? What are some things you want to do again? What’s something you look forward to. Think about these questions and then write or draw your thoughts.
While reflection typically involves looking at the past and present, giving energy toward thinking about the future can also be beneficial for your child, especially after some time has been dedicated to reflecting on the past. When they imagine the things they want and hope for a better future, they can truly blossom into who they want to be. In this exercise, they can practice hope, looking toward the future, and reflecting on how things have changed while thinking about how they want life to change as we navigate the aftermath of the pandemic. This exercise can also be beneficial to your child’s autonomy and decision-making skills. If one of their goals is to play outside more or to take up a new hobby, they can play an active part in making these goals happen.
Reflection is an important part of life: it provides us with invaluable insight that can be applied towards building a more positive and productive present and future. When children practice it early on, it becomes a lifelong skill that they can take with them as they grow. We hope these prompts give them the space and inspiration to reflect on the past year and the inspiration to continue learning, growing, and blossoming each and every day.
Sources: Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind, Edited by Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick, ACSD, NAEYC, Scholastic, Colorado State University, University of Rochester Medical Center