OK – confession time.
Before I had kids and I was working with children with very limited speech and language skills, one of my suggestions to parents was to create a daily journal for their child. In this, they could draw pictures and stick in mementos of their daily activities. This would be a physical cue for their child to use to initiate a conversation with friends and family, and also serve as a prompt to help the adults understand what the child was saying.
Great idea in theory. Definitely works in practice. But since I had my own children, I realised that you’ve got to be VERY motivated to keep this up. Quite frankly, not a lot of what we do in our day is remarkable enough to write about. So I don’t.
But, this changes when we are on holiday. When we are on vacation, we have the time to spend ten minutes each day writing about what we’ve done.
But why else do I bother?
- When we are on holidays, we have something interesting to write about!
- We often have mementos to stick in (such as tickets and pamphlets), instead of having to rely on my dodgy drawing all the time.
- It is a fabulous way of making a family record about what you did on holiday.
- On this trip we were travelling around a lot. I printed a picture of our accommodation each night before we left, and stuck it at the bottom of each page. This created a visual timetable for my kids. Knowing where they were staying, and being able to see how many sleeps until we moved again, alleviated some of the stress that a busy holiday with small children brought.
- Your child will get lots of practice in telling stories about the trip, which is good for their memory and oral narrative skills.
- You can help shape your child’s grammar and vocabulary when writing down the words to put in the book.
- The book encourages independence – you don’t have to be there to prompt your children about their holiday tales – the pictures and an interested adult can do this instead.
- Your child will get to practice having a conversation with family and friends. Instead of a generic “Did you have a nice time on your holiday?”, they get more specific questions and comments.
- Creating the book reinforces your child’s literacy skills at every step. They see you writing down the date, and what they said about the day. They get to draw pictures or write words, depending on their skill level. All of this helps them develop the link between language and text.
Want to see one of ours? This wasn’t from our recent trip down south, but from the one we took last year.
As you can see, it’s quite low-tech. All you need is a spiral bound journal with blank pages, as well as some pencils and a stick of glue. I think blank pages are better than lined pages as it gives you more flexibility for drawing and sticking.
As you can see, my artwork leaves a lot to be desired. But the kids can at least recognise
most some of my animals to help them retell the story about visiting the farm.
But you don’t have to draw if you really don’t want to. I collect pamphlets and flyers from the landmark that we’re visiting, and when we get back to the hotel, we cut them out and stick them in.
Or, you can stick in the admission or transport tickets from the day. I made sure to keep the aeroplane boarding passes from this trip, as I’m sure that they will be obsolete soon and my girls will look back and laugh at the quaint way that we used to travel in the ‘olden days’
Tips for success?
- Don’t be too precious about your lack of drawing skill. Your kids are very easily impressed!
- This is not scrapbooking. It doesn’t have to be perfect or colour coordinated or themed. It’s for your kids and the more natural, the better.
- Collect as much paperwork as you can at each destination – sticking in pictures is easier for little kids than creating meaningful drawings that they can recognise.
- Make sure you do it at the end of each day. This particular journal is missing the last three days, as I was sure that we’d do it when we got home. That was 9 months ago, and needless to say, I haven’t gotten around to doing it yet!
- Give your children very clear instructions about what their task is, eg. one draw the pictures and the other colour them in.
- Have plenty of other pieces of paper available so if they just want to colour, scribble or draw a picture of a mermaid feeding a dolphin, they can, but it doesn’t get mixed up and become a permanent part of the holiday story!
This is the third in a series about how to develop your child’s language skllls when on holidays. The first post was about turning off the TV when away, and the second post was about choosing the right toys to take with you. Click through and check them out!
Do you make a travel journal when you go away with your kids? Do you have any tips to share?
Check out the other post in this series: reading beautiful books.