My 8 year old daughter just started her first diary! And it's a PRIVATE diary. So private that she threatened to punch her sister in the face should she ever read it. News flash: G can't read... yet. Guess S wanted to get a jump on keeping G out of her private life. Yes, of course I commented immediately when I heard S quietly, yet severely, say this to her sister. S! I said sternly. She apologized, but reiterated that her diary would be private. Her sister accepted and agreed. Then G asked me if I had any more notebooks for her to start a diary. I looked, but I took all extra notebooks to school, so I told her I'd bring her one later this week. That didn't stop her, she got some paper and got started on her diary. G's first entry (she's 5) was a treasure map. Except her entry wasn't very private because she showed it to me as soon as she finished.
S's diary is a pretty little journal that I never used except for four pages, so I ripped those out. I've also been journaling again. As I've said I never did "Dear Diary," but instead wrote, "Dear Journal." Now I just date the pages and include the day of the week. After S started her diary she called down to ask me how to spell broccoli. So, it's that kind of diary: boring food stuff. Just kidding! I love food blogs, S knows I put my own recipes on my blog and S loves food, so of course she'd write about food!
I started my first journal at age 10. I hope S keeps it up and I hope it provides an outlet that she needs for venting her frustrations and focusing on her hopes and dreams. It beats biting her own arm, anyway. She used to do that whenever she was frustrated and recently I've noticed she has stopped. She had stopped before, but started it again. Maybe this time, though, she won't need it. She certainly uses books to escape and I'm so grateful she enjoys reading and writing.
I'm sure G will follow in her footsteps as well. From infancy both girls looked at books on their own. Up until this past year G fell asleep looking at books. Early this school year she started keeping paper and pencils in her room and playing school or simply writing before bed. Usually she'd just write letters she knew, but then through school she learned new sight words and wrote those. That was really a precursor to journaling.
S had journals in preschool, kindergarten and first grade. Free writing is very good for early education and for anyone's creative thinking, really. To take the initiative to write on her own makes me very proud. I hope when/if you read this one day, S, you won't mind my sharing these details of your life and you'll see how much I love you!