Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Parent Perspective

Parent Perspectives will show up on the blog from time to time. They are written by parents for parents to offer encouragement, tips and perspective on various aspects of home schooling.  If you have an idea, please email 53shopping@charter.net


Today we hear from Julie Theule.  Julie and her husband, Chad, are a Track A family with four kids ages 13 to 3.  


Journaling with Kids
by Julie Theule

Journaling is an important part of literacy at our house.  I love it because I have snap shots of who my kids were at particular times in their lives and I am chronicling their growing up as kids and learners.  Seeing the progress from chubby fingers, barely legible, to capable and expressive writers is heart warming for me and a blast for them to go back and read.

Around age four I started with my oldest son Kyle, who will be entering his sixth year at SLOCA as a seventh grader.   We started with simple little sentences in a sketchbook. Sometimes with prompted questions like, "Kyle, what was your favorite part of today?" would get answers like, "I liked going to the park with Ryan and riding my bike on the trail."  I would write exactly what he said.  Using both of our fingers, I could have him  "read" what I wrote by tracing over the letters.  Then he drew a picture to go with the sentence.  After doing this maybe one or two days a week,  Kyle had quite a few entries he was excited to go back and reread about himself. The pictures would jog his memory as to what the sentence was and next thing he knows he is a reader and writer and that is exciting stuff!  When kids first start learning to read and write, journals give them great confidence to move forward.


I have two other kids at SLOCA. Nate is going into 3rd grade and Julianne is going into 4th. Journaling for them is usually writing what they are excited about or thinking about at the time: what they did over the weekend, an upcoming party, sports they are into, etc. Sometimes they draw a picture and sometimes not.  Most of the time they have no problem thinking of what they want to write.  From time to time they are just not in the mood so we can talk for a bit about ideas (or attitude adjustments).   Nate’s last entry was writing an entire step-by-step itinerary for his birthday party,  including that he wanted lemon meringue pie instead of birthday cake.  I had no idea that he even liked lemon meringue pie!  Sometimes I learn things about my kids from their journals that I would have never known.

Since I want the kids to feel free to write as the words flow from their thoughts, I don’t like to critique or edit their journals.   I do however sometimes pick one thing (just one!) to point out or correct in their writing. A misspelled word, punctuation error, grammatical error, etc.  I find that pointing out only one needed correction is super helpful without deflating them as writers.
Sometimes their journals can be letters to their dad if he is traveling. I will take a picture of the journal page and email it to him and not only are they excited about sending it, but Chad feels more connected to the kids even if he is out of town.




I like the journals they sell at Lakeshore Learning Materials (I worked there in college so I am partial) because there is space both for writing and a picture. You can order them online, but any journal that has space for writing on the bottom and a picture on the top would be great.  Older kids might prefer a simple notebook or sketchbook.   I always make sure they date them.  During the summer months I don’t regularly have them write in their journals, but at least once a week the kids write letters or notes to friends or family.  I did give each child a summer journal and Julianne brought hers on our camping trip.  Each night she was up in her bunk with a flashlight writing about her days of swimming, hiking, biking, and how many s’mores she ate.  She taped on train tickets stubs and nature center stamps.  Again, it is such a delight to go back and read her entries.

Even though Kyle is twelve now he still likes to write about his life.  He is not into keeping a paper journal  but has shifted to writing entries on his blog.  Anything from legos, cooking, roller hockey, what he did over the weekend--same idea as paper but now he can share with family and friends with his own style.

I have a “barrel of monkeys” three year old in the mix as well. His chubby fingers are primed for his new journal.  Just scribbles for now, but I better get to writing down all of the hilarious things that Brady boy has to say!

Start journaling with your kids if you haven't already. I never journaled when I was a kid, but I sure wish I had a record of my young life to look back on and smile.

Thank you, Julie for sharing how journaling works in your family!
Two other tidbits: This morning at 9:30 AM, Merideth Eades will be hosting Preschool Classic Story Hour in the library. Next Wednesday at 10AM is the first campus tour of the year. Remember, invite your hair stylist or barber and earn a $10 credit in the school store!


SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with Lakeshore Learning Materials.

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