Journaling is a normal part of homeschooling for us. Whenever we go out, the girls jokingly ask (ok, maybe they are more serious than joking but…), “Are we going to have to journal about this?” We journal about trips, slumber parties, bike rides, adoption. Sometimes we journal the before and after thoughts of long awaited activities. Topics range from world events to everyday happenings.
Hanissa gets to join in the fun, too. I ask questions about an event, get her talking, and then I write down her thoughts. Simple, right?
The tricky part is the grammar. She has serious pronoun issues preferring him, her, and me over he, she, and I. She sometimes flips nouns and verbs around. Often words are confused and I’m left trying to guess what she is saying. I don’t spend all day correcting her grammar, but we try to be diligent in teaching her to speak well.
A simple conversation may sound like this:
H: Him went really fast.
M: He went very fast.
H: But, him a boy!
M: He is also used for a boy.
She looks at me and starts again.
H: He went really fast. Me want to do it, too.
M: Hanissa you need to get your coat.
H: I can’t stand you.
M: (just a little shocked) What did you say?
H: Mommy, what you say? I can’t ‘stand you.
M: (with a sigh of relief) Understand, you can’t understand me?
H: Yep, I can’t ‘stand you.
I want to keep the essence of her story and her words, which can be challenging at times. She’ll tell me something, I’ll correct it, she’ll then repeat the corrected sentence back to me. What started out as a simple storytelling activity has become a huge aide in speaking skills. She’s learning to share her thoughts and beginning to catch herself when she makes grammar mistakes. Journaling gives us one on one time to focus on speaking.
I love journaling because it gives kids a chance to write about their world, from their eyes. It’s a record of not just life, but life as they view it at various ages. At 5, Hanissa is my youngest journaler (Yeah, I just made up that word, because journalist seems way too formal for what we do) to date. It was important for her to have a story, her own story, within our family. She came into a home complete with projects, art work, stories, photos that meant nothing to her. She kept asking questions like, “Where is my school work?” and “Hanissa have ‘that’ (fill in the blank), no?” Journaling, along with lots of artwork plastered to our refrigerator, has helped her remember and know her story, her place.
Here are a few samples.
I ride my bike nicely. My bike is pink. I like to go fast. I ride in the park.
One time, I fell down and bit my tongue. Daddy fixed my bike. I said, “Thank you.”
Sometimes, my sisters help me ride my bike. I’m a stinker. I like to make them run beside me.
I like to ride downhill. When I ride uphill, it is hard. I stand up and pedal hard.
(The next one comes complete with pictures because I can’t help myself. She’s just too cute!)
I put my ice-skating shoes on. I slid around, went very fast, fell down, and got my skirt wet. It dried very fast. I was (a lot a bit) scared, but when I started I wasn’t scared. I held Mommy’s hand some, I held Daddy’s hand a little (a very tiny bit), and I went by myself. I fell down, again. Little kids do that when they learn.
Sometimes, the simplest thing can have the greatest impact.