Middle School Journal Prompts

It’s no secret that middle schoolers are difficult so for the school-based OT, having middle school journal prompts on hand is key.  Middle school occupational therapy has more of a challenge when it comes to accomplishing goals. Their hormones are changing, and they are struggling to find their place. Journaling is a great way not only to express themselves, but for introspection and self reflection. These middle school journaling prompts provide a framework for self expression. Check out our resource on occupational therapy for teens for more insight.

middle school journal prompts

These Middle School Journal prompts include references to Amazon affiliate links included. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Middle School Journal Prompts

Our middle school students have a lot going on. In addition to a more regimented course curriculum, mid terms, final exams, and stricter schedules, there are complex social and emotional considerations.

When it comes to handwriting and writing assignments, we can consider all of these middle school complexities while developing skills at this higher level of education.

Whether you are working on written expression through handwriting or by targeting typing skills, you can use these journal prompts to foster skill-building in middle schoolers.

Given all that is going on inside the mind and body of a middle school student, there needs to be an outlet to begin to process this information. Teenagers are especially reluctant to take the advice of a parent or teacher at this time. 

Middle school journal prompts are a great way to foster this emotional development.

Journaling and self reflection is a guided way for them to make sense of their world without being handed advice (that they don’t want to hear anyway). 

The middle school journaling prompts below can help kickstart the ideas.

What are the Struggles of a Middle Schooler?

  • The first major struggle we see is impulsivity.  The prefrontal cortex that controls executive function is not developed until age 25!  Check out this post on Tips for Impulsivity for more hints and resources for taming impulsivity. 
  • Social function – middle school students are trying to find their way. Children develop at different rates, so some students are more mature than others.  While some middle schoolers are interested in romantic relationships, others still want to play with dolls and action figures.  Neither is wrong, it just makes for a complicated social life. 
  • Identity – middle schoolers are trying to figure out who they are.  They need a group to belong in. If they do not fit in with the crowd, they look for alternative groups, or begin to question their own identity. 
  • Questioning authority – this is the age of struggling to be independent but still needing some parental guidance. Teens question and push back against authority in an effort to become more independent.  They are not mature enough for all of the independence they seek.  
  • Hormones – as the hormones are developing, there are a lot of ups and down. Surges in testosterone can lead to aggression, outbursts, inappropriate sexual behavior, and risk taking behaviors. Uneven estrogen causes mood swings, emotional dyregulation, confusion, and inappropriate sexual behavior.
  • Anxiety – there is an increasing number of young people who struggle with anxiety.  Given all of the changes happening within their body, the social and academic pressures, and difficulties with communication, anxiety or depression can begin to develop.

Now you understand the need for journaling prompts!

Ideas for Middle School Journaling Prompts

Start with our giant list of writing prompts, or even our back-to-school writing prompts. Then, try using some of these journaling ideas.

  • Stress diary – this kind of journal has guided prompts to notice problem behavior, investigate the triggers, and find a workable solution
  • Bullet Journal (Amazon affiliate link)- this is the latest craze in journaling. It involves bullet points and lists.  These can be to do lists, worries, anxiety triggers, or whatever the journaler wants to catalog
  • Impulsivity journal – log impulsive decisions, the consequences, and a better response for the next time. Check out the OT Toolbox’s Impulsivity Journal for ideas
  • Message to my future self – write down goals and aspirations for who you want to become five or ten years from now. This gives the learner a chance to look forward and think beyond their current struggles
  • Unsent letter – write letters to someone and don’t send them. Sometimes just the outlet to vent frustration or desires is helpful without ever sending the letters
  • Daily journal prompt – this might be the same or different each day. It can include phrases like: the worst part of my day, the best part of my day, what I would do different next time, conversations I had today
  • Classic journal prompt – write ten things about today in random order
  • Questions without answers – unanswered questions the middle schooler just wants to put out there. If they find an answer, they can go back and fill it in
  • Regrets/mistakes – what mistakes have you made that you wish you could go back and change?  What would you do differently
  • Gratitude Journal (affiliate link)- name three things per day that you are thankful for, or that went well. These can be placed in a gratitude jar also
  • Pros/cons – describe a decision that needs to be made. Write a list of all of the pros and cons to help with the decision or problem solving
  • Make a Collage – perhaps the journal is not even written. Maybe it is clippings from a magazine that reflect wishes, feelings, or meaningful events
  • Things you wish you had or could do – this is not just a shopping list. Maybe it is better food, a different body, more confidence. Work through the list to see which are plausible and how to go about attaining them
  • Would you rather – offer up different “would you rather” questions and journal your opinion on the matter and why.  My favorite is “would you rather eat a bunch of ear wax or toenail clippings?”  These have to be off the wall in order to get middle schoolers engaged
  • What you would like to say – are you filled with unsaid things?  Similar to the unsent letter, write down things that come to mind after the fact.  Example: someone makes a rude remark and an hour later you think of what you could have said
  • Dream journal (Amazon affiliate link)- write down dreams you have. This can be an indicator of subconscious stress
  • Unpopular opinions – what is something you don’t agree with?  Maybe it is something political or a social media post everyone is raving about.  Don’t you wish sometimes you could just say how you feel without consequences?
  • Things I can control – what are some things in your realm of control? What are things that are not in your own control?  Can you shift any of these things, or learn to accept them?
  • What is something you love about yourself?  It can be a physical attribute or a character trait
  • What is something you would change about yourself? This gives a chance to determine if these dislikes are actual problems, or perceived ones. If they are problems that can be solved, develop a plan to change them.  BDD or body dysmorphia disorder is a condition where a person perceives something is wrong with them. They are consumed by this flaw. Even corrective measures don’t solve the problem. They go from one obsession to another. Some things are so minor that only they notice them.  In journaling about dislikes, watch for signs of obsession over perceived flaws and work on healthy coping strategies
  • SMART goals – these goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timebound.  Write some goals for yourself for the next six months.  Make sure they are SMART. Track progress toward these goals.
  • Make it silly or fun. Something like an ice cream writing activity can be all it takes for this age!

This list of Middle School Journal Prompts could go on forever

Once you start thinking outside the box about journaling styles and prompts, the lists are endless. Notice many of these prompts are controversial, may uncover something shocking, or might reveal things that truly need intervention.  Middle schoolers are already struggling to be accepted, to communicate their wants and needs, and to navigate the changes in their bodies. Giving them a creative outlet to journal about things that are usually suppressed can be a step in the right direction for communication and problem solving.  

These prompts are not just for middle school students.

Obviously many of the topics are for more mature students, therefore some middle school preteens might not be ready for them. High schoolers, young adults, and even more “mature” adults can benefit from a creative outlet to share their inner struggles and triumphs.  

I kind of like the unpopular opinion prompt myself.  I am sure I mutter my unpopular opinions to myself or my spouse. Maybe by writing them down, I can work to see the other side, or just put it out there in the universe, without being judged, or ending up on social media.

What creative sparks did you find while reading through the list of Middle School Journaling Prompts?

Victoria Wood, OTR/L is a contributor to The OT Toolbox and has been providing Occupational Therapy treatment in pediatrics for more than 25 years. She has practiced in hospital settings (inpatient, outpatient, NICU, PICU), school systems, and outpatient clinics in several states. She has treated hundreds of children with various sensory processing dysfunction in the areas of behavior, gross/fine motor skills, social skills and self-care. Ms. Wood has also been a featured speaker at seminars, webinars, and school staff development training. She is the author of Seeing your Home and Community with Sensory Eyes.

middle school journal prompts

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