Products we love: Spark Journals
With Founder, Jennifer Wu
The simple act of writing your thoughts down in a journal is a remarkably powerful thing. In fact the practice of journalling is proven to have an endless number of benefits including reducing stress and anxiety, improving communication skills and memory and even boosting our immune system. It's also a practice that can be learned from a young age (essentially as soon as your child can read and write).
Spark Journals' is a gratitude & growth mindset journal for kids that builds resilience, cultivates positivity and gives them the tools to handle stress.
Jennifer Wu, Founder of Spark Journals, shares a little about her entrepreneurial journey, how her own kids incorporate a journaling practice and her top tips for fostering a growth mindset in our little ones.
Kind Human Club: Where did the idea for Spark Journals come from?
Jennifer Wu: The idea for Spark Journals really came from my own personal experience using tools like a gratitude practice, and journaling as an adult. I wanted to teach my kids these things, but in a way that was fun and age-appropriate for them, and I wasn’t really finding what I was looking for out in the market already so I decided to create it.
KHC: How does the Journal work and at what age can a child start using one?
JW: The journal has activities that were designed in partnership with an Early Childhood Educator to make the prompts really relatable. It includes some for the whole family, some drawing prompts, and some shareable activities all with a focus on putting a gratitude and growth mindset practice into everyday contexts in our kid’s lives. The journal is intended to become a repeated part of your family’s routine and includes variety so that it keeps kids engaged and excited to see what comes next in the journal. It can be used as early as 4 with parental involvement, and it's really great for kids in the kindergarten and early elementary years.
KHC: How do your own kids use the journal?
JW: My own kids like to grab the journal and just flip through until they find an activity that resonates with them that day. We have it as part of a quiet time toolkit that the kids can use whenever they want, but I encourage them to check it out at least once a week.
KHC: What is the biggest difference you’ve noticed in your kids since they started using their journal?
JW: I’ve noticed that my kids are more expressive about gratitude, and more aware of the little things in their everyday life. Especially at the beginning of the pandemic, I noticed them struggling with uncertainty and anxiety, and the journal has helped to anchor them and help them feel more grounded. It has also given us a shared vocabulary to talk about growth mindset, so even when things aren’t perfect or exactly the way we want them to be, we now have a shared way to talk about how we are all capable of learning something new or finding a solution.
KHC: What are your top tips for fostering a growth mindset in our kids?
JW: 1) Let them see you learning - Remember when you were a kid and you thought that adults had all the answers? I think one of the biggest things that helped my kids is for my husband and I to be honest with them about when we are learning (and maybe struggling). Launching this business has been a totally new learning experience for me so I relate it back to them learning something new in school, and how we might make mistakes but we take our learnings and adjust the plan.
2) Giving them choice - Giving them some autonomy over their own choices and learning is also something that we try to do as a family (as hard as it is to let go of control sometimes). When things don’t go as planned, then we have a way to discuss it with them using a framework of “What did we learn from this, and how can we adjust?”. They’re still young, but my hope is that this will help them understand that mistakes aren’t failures as long as we learn. It also gives them some practice coming up with solutions, and practicing a growth mindset while the stakes are relatively low.
3) How we talk matters - whether it is in academics, or extracurriculars, or just daily life, we try to talk about the process and learning more than we focus on the end result. Report cards are an example that every parent can relate to - of course, we’re all kind of accustomed to looking at the grades and discussing those with our kids. We try to keep the focus of the discussion on the comments of the report card - what did you learn, what learning skills did you practice, and praise them on effort and improvement rather than just letter grades.
KHC: What are some of your favourite books, apps, podcasts or other tools on the theme of mindfulness and/or growth mindset for kids?
JW: I wish I could read books more often! One of my favourites on growth mindset is Grit by Angela Duckworth. I’ve often got a podcast on if I’m driving around or doing dishes, and I really enjoy The Neurodiversity Podcast with Dr. Emily Kircher-Morris. It really helps me to remember that every kid is unique, every brain learns differently and helps give me practical ways to support my kids.
We have a ton of mindfulness resources in our house that we love to incorporate into our daily lives. My kids really enjoy using Joyful Hearts and Bud Sprout Bloom affirmation cards to set the tone for a day, and Spotify meditations and bedtime stories as a regular part of our evening routine. One thing that I harp on a lot with my kids, is daily outside time, and while it's not possible every day, just getting out into nature is one of my very favourite mindfulness activities.