Creative Journaling 101: Starting an Art Journal for Kids

Creating a creative art journal for kids will provide a lasting record of your child’s art development. Plus, it’ll keep him busy for hours!

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Why Your Child Will Love to Journal

Kids love to draw and to share their artwork. When they get started with creative journaling, they won’t want to stop!

Art is an amazing outlet and will help your kids feel good about their talents. In this post, I’ll explain how you can help launch an art journal with a child in your life.

Over time, it will be exciting for you to see your child’s art develop as his skills advance and his ideas blossom.

Fun fact: Did you know that child art development is universal across cultures and continents?

In fact, children’s drawing skills continue to evolve from when they can grasp a crayon until age 11 or 12. Encouraging your child to draw is great for his brain development, and can boost his self-esteem. Bottom line – doing art is healthy!

That’s why I recommend creative journaling as a practical way for your kids to get all these benefits.

A creative art journal is an artistic diary, and it can be created by people of all ages. Adults will often create a theme for their journal or use prompts to stimulate art ideas, like those listed in this post of 25 art journaling prompts.

While a lot of children prefer to generate their own ideas, others also love prompts to get them going.

If your child is between the ages of 6 – 11, it’s a perfect time to encourage him to create an art journal of his own. Making art will give him a creative outlet. Drawing will give him an opportunity to express himself without words.

Younger kids can also benefit. Younger children, usually ages 3 – 5, also love drawing. Since they fill up pages very quickly, using a notebook might not work. I’d suggest the idea of using regular papers and stapling them together into a journal that they can keep adding to.

With teens – it depends. Some of them love creative art journaling, and some have other interests that take precedence.

But what if you don’t know the first thing about how to start a creative art journal and you’re not sure how to get started? Let’s go through it together.

If you’d like to try this for yourself, you can just start your own art journal by following my step-by-step directions.

But you don’t need to do that to get your little one started…

Because even if you’ve never done an art journal, I have a feeling that your child will know what to do. Children are naturally creative! As an art therapist, I work with children all the time, and their artwork never ceases to amaze me. And children love to share their artwork with the adults in their lives.

So, to get him started, all you need to do is set him up and give a few basic instructions.

Here’s how:

Provide your child with a blank notebook, preferably unlined, or a stack of papers that are stapled together. He’ll need some crayons, colored pens, or markers, too. Explain that an art journal is like a diary just without words and he can choose what to draw each day.

Let him get started, and then remind him each day to put in another entry. Or each week, whatever works for your kid.

But most important is what comes next.

Which is, to be open to looking at what he’s drawn – with his permission obviously – and enjoy his drawings without criticism or advice. Your positive encouragement is what your child needs to develop his artistic talent. Your smile and pleasure at his artwork is what gives him the enthusiam to draw more.

Avoid helping your child draw in his art journal. Let him do it by himself. And, NO critiquing ever (unless your child absolutely begs you and I’ve yet to see that happen after years of working with with hundreds of kids!).

“Wait, did she just say avoid helping him draw? Why ever not?”

Yes. Instead of doing it for him, demonstrate how he can do it himself. Instead of doing it with him, sit nearby and watch, encouraging him to make his artwork his own. This is more than a one-time thing, it’s a life lesson to help our children take responsibility for themselves and for what they do. It gives them the ability to feel super proud about their results, because they did it – not you!

Which leads me to the topic of giving compliments. Our children THRIVE on the positive words we tell them. That being said, research shows that there are different ways to compliment our children, some which help and others which actually harm. In this article by Dr. Gwen Dewar, you’ll get concrete tips on how to praise your children.

Bottom line is to focus your compliments on his efforts and his process, not on how beautiful his drawing looks.

For the most part, young children are naturally creative, and tend to be less critical of their work. They don’t expect their drawings to look ‘real’ like adults to. Unless they hear criticism elsewhere, and then they start to doubt their artwork.

That’s why older children might be more needy for your praise. They might share doubts and question whether you like it.

Which makes it all the more important to share encouraging feedback for his creative journaling efforts.

So, I repeat, NO advice and NO criticism.

And never forget how important YOU are in the life of your child.

Happy journaling! And, to keep this post handy for the future, add THIS PIN below to your favorite Art Projects Pinterest Board.