Students frequently address emotion and feelings through their writing. Teachers should remember that they are not trained psychologists and should refer students who clearly need more attention. They can, however, encourage students to write and reveal their emotions and thoughts on paper.

Some common themes revealed through writing are sorrow (death), loneliness, anxiety, wonder, friendship, self-confidence, self-esteem, conflicts and concerns, love, and worries and fears.

Teachers can create an environment where “revealing” writing is more likely to occur. There are several guidelines that must be followed.

1. Trust and respect children.
a. Model your own writing that takes a chance.
b. Respect the privacy of their work (without ignoring obvious calls for help)
c. Create a secure place where their writing can be stored safely.
2. Receive writing graciously.
a. Again, respect privacy.
b. Acknowledge what the child has written in some form.
3. Practice empathetic teaching.
a. Be sensitive to and genuinely interested in your children.
b. Do not always look for something to critique.
c. Give criticism when needed but do so gently.
4. Replenish creative energy.
a. Give new inspiration (read aloud, new topic starters, etc).
b. Allow children to take brief breaks from writing; don’t force it.
5. Include everybody in.
a. Make sure everyone is given time to write.
b. Acknowledge everyone’s contributions.
c. Do not assume that you know who the best writers will be.
6. Uncover and enlarge children’s natural talents.
a. Provide opportunities for children to write.
b. Provide guidance when needed while allowing for creativity.
c. Again, treat children’s writing with respect.