Musings from the Starting Line – Journaling


Journaling for Homeschool... and Life

I am an analyst. For over a decade, my career was analyzing medical device companies and helping investors to find companies with potential. As a child, I analyzed anything that I deemed important enough to explore. As a homemaker and homeschooler, I also analyze things to the nth degree. As I voraciously consume content to help me better succeed at life, I see many potential overlaps for my children's education. Journaling is one of these areas.

Daily journaling is a big thing in the self-improvement space. It helps to orient your day towards the tasks at hand, explore deeper yearnings, and to cultivate a habit of gratitude. Journaling is also big in the scientific community, as a lab notebook provides a continuous log of experiments conducted and data accumulated.

Journaling can also be a strong resource for lifelong education. The process can evolve over time, beginning as an opportunity to work on composition skills while chronicling experiences and knowledge glean from life and lessons. This article by Frugal Homeschooling on Daily Journals describes the curriculum benefits as well as the keepsake value of assisted journaling from an early age.

As Kristen from Frugal Homeschooling explains, having kindergartners and other early writers dictate journal entries can expose them to structure of writing while expanding upon both lessons and experiences without the frustration of having to also write their entries. Having your student describe the day, the weather, or something else they observe works on adjectives, narratives, and strong descriptions. Creating "5 Senses" entries can provide a snapshot of that day and potentially adorable memories. The journal can also be a space for creative expression.

As your student develops stronger writing skills, the task of writing in the journal will shift to their shoulders. As this skill develops, it provides a great opportunity to distill down the lessons of the day in terms of facts learned or areas for further exploration. Finding a balance to make the journal a reference for your future self can make journaling a lifelong practice. I know that I have personally spent countless hours recreating research I conducted years (or months) earlier. A journal, kept on a consistent basis in a particular location and archived for future reference, can provide an opportunity to more fully capitalize on the lessons of the past.

I may spend too much time listening to life-hacker Tim Ferriss, of the 4 Hour Workweek fame, for someone building men instead of businesses. Tim's raw descriptions of his attempt to better tame his perfectionist tendencies (which I share) are oriented to the business world but I can't help to see the applicability to home (and lifelong) education. This article from Business Insider describes his journaling routine and provides links to podcasts where he expands on these topics. Would this sort of introspection and capture be a benefit to your student over a lifetime?

I am approaching kindergarten with an a la carte approach to subject matter and we are beginning a journaling process. My kindergartner (and likely his 3 year old brother) will be able to pick out their special journal for the year and we will fill it with their experiences. This journal will be a chronicle of their learning, providing a reference point for yearly review of their work. I believe their journal should be personal, and for that reason it won't serve directly as proof of our educational attainment. It will, however, provide the raw material for a less personal summary of their work.

If the idea of journaling calls to you, please join me in my efforts. Before reading Kristen's piece at Frugal Homeschooling, I thought that I should perfect my own journaling ahead of my son's ability to write in his own journal. I think that we will dive into a routine of dictated journaling this year. Mr. Kindergarten's journal will be the main focus, and I will work on my own efforts as a side project as opposed to a pre-requisite.

-Erica Layon