Our children are growing every day. They are not just growing taller—they are also growing in their understanding of the world and in their ability to interact with it in a meaningful way. God created our children as emotional creatures—they respond emotionally to the world around them. We can observe these emotions in our children from very young ages. Babies scream when their world is unpleasant—when their diapers are wet, or their bellies are hurting. Toddlers sometimes display their temper when something doesn’t go their way. It’s important for our children to grow in their ability to express and manage their own emotions and empathize with others. They won’t be able to function well as adults if they don’t learn these skills. As homeschool parents, we get to encourage and observe this emotional growth.
We’re now on the fourth post in our series titled “Why Do You Homeschool?” We’ve been talking with Deborah, a mom who homeschooled four children, about some of the advantages of homeschooling.
Deborah mentioned what a blessing it was that homeschooling allowed her family time to journal regularly, so I asked her to tell us more about that. Here’s what she said:
“Journaling is such a wonderful tool if used properly. It teaches a number of skills that are needed in any child’s education—from handwriting, spelling, and punctuation to thoughtful creative skills.
“Because we were fairly structured in our homeschooling, journaling was simply part of our ‘school day’ once a week.
“This all got started because of the journal entry section in the BJU Press spelling curriculum. The purpose was to have the child use some of the spelling words in the suggested topic. These entries were never graded, but I would always answer their journals briefly, using any words that they might have misspelled. It was never meant to critique their writing or thought processes.
“The journal entry does not have to be more than a couple of sentences sometimes. I required at least five sentences from my kids while in school. If the suggested topic (in the spelling text) did not seem to fit, I chose the question/topic. On occasion the kids would suggest something to write about. Some topics were simply fun ones; others were more serious in nature. Because it was accepted simply as part of the lesson and was not a long assignment, there was never an argument from any of them when it came time to write.
“The kids loved reading journals from years past. Often it generated laughter and discussion of family trips, events, and situations. It gave great opportunity to talk about God’s active presence in our lives individually and as a family. Many truths were fleshed out over time as the family bonded.
“Of course, the most vivid memory for them is sharing favorite times with their dad—our hikes and camping trips, his jokes and all the fun times he brought to our home. Often we talked about the topic, and the older kids would share something their youngest sibling did not remember about her dad. It brought healing to our broken hearts and cemented precious memories.
“Today my kids are better than I am when it comes to journaling because they were taught from the get-go how important it is to put your thoughts into writing and to do so clearly. They learned that discipline early on. I can’t emphasize enough how life-changing this practice can be if nurtured. The memories chronicled, the joys and heartaches revealed, and the lessons from the Lord written down to revisit years later are all invaluable.”
Has homeschooling made a blessing like this possible for your family? Let us know in the comments below!
I wrote my first journal entry when I was ten years old. It wasn’t particularly interesting. Life as a ten-year-old was pretty mundane, and at that time I was not very skilled at expressing my inward thoughts and emotions. But it was a start, and I was excited about the prospect of filling up all the blank pages in the lovely green journal that I had received just days earlier as a birthday gift.
I filled up all the pages of that green journal, as well as the pages of many other journals over the years. Sometimes I wrote fairly regularly, but sometimes hardly at all. Now, when I occasionally thumb through the pages of those old journals, I can see the benefits of them. I am a better writer because of all the practice. I learned how to express the emotions, dreams, and innermost thoughts inside me. Best of all, I have a record of many answers to prayer, many unexpected blessings, and many dark hours. I can clearly see the faithfulness of God.
If you want to encourage your children or students to journal in this new year, here are some tips.
- Buy each of them a nice, lined journal.
Journals themselves can inspire writing. I always got excited whenever I received or had the opportunity to buy a new one. Look for one with a spiral binding or one that will lie flat when opened.
- Assure them that you won’t read what they have written without their permission.
Resist the temptation to grade their writing. If you do evaluate it, they will never feel free to express themselves.
- Set aside times to write.
Your children or students should be free to journal whenever they wish, but at the beginning it is helpful to have them set aside a dedicated time once a week.
- Let them write about whatever they want to.
Don’t assign topics. If your novice journalers don’t know what to write about, you can offer suggestions, but you should encourage them as much as possible to just start writing. The ideas will come.
Do you keep a journal? If so, how has it benefited you?