Disclaimer: This product was received for free for purposes of a review.
As three of my four kids move on from diapers and round-the-clock supervision, many parts of parenting feel easier. They can get their own snacks, use the bathroom without help, and they recently learned to wash their lunch dishes. But at the same time, there are parts of being a mom to elementary-age kids that are more challenging. I want to parent them well in this next phase of life, but it often leaves me feeling ill-equipped and overwhelmed.
In an effort to feel a little less clueless about parenting big kids, I wanted to try a few new resources for guiding my kids toward an emotionally healthy mindset. One of those resources I decided to try was the Big Life Kids Journal, a journal designed to meet kids at different age stages. Journaling with kids is linked with many benefits for kids as they grow, such as encouraging writing skills, literacy, and reflection. Here’s how our experience with the journal has been going.
What is the Big Life Journal for Kids?
The journal was created by two parents who wanted to help their own child develop a positive outlook, perseverance, and resiliency. We used the Big Life Journal, 1st Edition, for kids ages 7 to 10.
The Big Life Journal has 26 weeks of guided activities for kids ages 7 to 11 years old, including short readings and drawing and writing prompts. It aims to help kids develop a growth mindset, which their journal states is the belief that “you can always improve.” Having a growth mindset is helpful for kids, or just about anyone, because it asserts the idea that you can always improve. While a fixed mindset is the belief that you’re born with certain talents or skills, a growth mindset accepts that you can learn new things. When you have this mindset, you’re willing to try and fail because you know it’s apart of the learning process. The cool thing about teaching kids to believe they can improve and learn new things is they’re more likely to succeed, because they’re willing to persevere through challenges and mistakes on their road to developing a new skill.
Who it’s for
Our family has been using the journal for our two oldest kids, who are 6 and 8, to open up conversations about some emotional topics like failure and making mistakes. We were encouraged to read that journaling is specifically being recommended during the pandemic as a way to manage stress and develop emotional literacy. For instance, a 2018 study from Advances in Psychiatric Treatment outlines health benefits from regular journaling, like reduced blood pressure, decreased depressive symptoms, and a stronger immune system.
What it does
I think my daughters have responded well to the idea that anyone can improve and that hard work will help them improve over time. By participating in the prompts alongside my child, I’ve felt like I am walking away with ideas I can refer back to when I’ve felt poorly equipped to talk to frustrated or anxious kids when they’ve faced challenges in school, relationships, or hobbies. For example, I can point them back to a reading about reaching a goal, little by little, instead of expecting to get it just right the first time. The readings also share inspiring stories of people who have accomplished cool things through hard work and determination.
“The benefit of this journal is that it is a great introduction to kids and parents who are not familiar with having a growth mindset.”
The journal is a stand-alone product and many of the activities can be completed independently by confident readers. This means it works well for all kinds of families, including those who don’t have a ton of extra time to walk through activities or curriculum with their kids. However, the journal does encourage the child to find a journal buddy, like a parent, grandparent, or sibling to check in with each week to complete a few basic questions and prompts.
The topics in the kids journal all fall under the umbrella of developing a growth mindset. Some of these topics including “failure is learning,” “be positive,” and “be persistent.” This is an intro growth mindset, giving both kids and parents language to use when kids might feel like they “can’t do it” or something is too hard.
While The Big Life Journal can be used on its own, there are also a variety of Big Life products you can pair with the journal. These additional resources, both free and purchased, include:
- The Big Life Podcast
- The Big Life Daily Edition
- Printable kits on resilience, challenges, gratitude, and more.
- Conversation cards
All of the video products have a shared goal of teaching kids what a growth mindset is and how they can adopt this view in their own life. We’ve been listening to the podcast, writing in the daily journal, and using one of the PDF downloads to go with the podcast. These extra features have helped us to go a little deeper—the podcast provides more examples of people who tried, failed, and tried again and the PDF downloads have memorable activities to really drive home new ideas they might be introduced to in the journal or podcast.
Basic, but Maybe Not for Big Kids
The benefit of this journal is that it is a great introduction to kids and parents who are not familiar with having a growth mindset. If you feel unsure how to navigate things like perfectionism, low confidence, defeatism, and more, this is an easy first step toward more empowered thinking and action.
Additionally, this book is great for younger kids. It is colorful and concise and I think it could work as a resource on journal topics for kindergarteners with someone to help them read and fill in the blanks with their answers.
On the flip side, our family found that it was a little more basic than we hoped. They worked great for our middle daughter but I felt my older daughter, who is nearly 9, could have handled more. If you want to go deeper with your kids, you may find this journal isn’t quite enough.
Could Your Child Benefit from the Big Like Kids Journal?
This journal will work well for young elementary kids and kids who need an introductory guide to having a growth mindset. To go deeper with these products and resources, you will need to buy more and commit more time to work with your kids. It is also worth noting that each week requires some one-on-one time with the child’s chosen “journal buddy,” which can provide a way to connect with your child on a regular basis.
All in all, this is a fun resource that’s helpful but it isn’t a deep dive into the topic of growth mindset by any means. Its weekly activities can be completed in a few minutes at a time and were easy for my kids to complete without too much help from me. For many families, I think it could serve as a great way to start the practice of writing in a journal with their kids.
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