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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Journaling

One thing we have implemented this year is journaling.

I did not allow the boys to journal last year because their spelling was atrocious - they couldn't even spell "they" or "where" or any of the common words found in a typical journal entry. Charlotte Mason taught, and I believe, that children should not be allowed to write misspellings as it ingrains improper spelling into their minds. I think this is true for some kids - maybe the visual learner, whereas others are less affected. So, I did not allow my children to write in journals for fear of further ingraining misspellings.

After we knocked out the common words with my Spelling Solutions program, and made even more headway with spelling through Phonics Intervention, I felt it was time to begin daily journal entries (this is in addition to copywork).

They now write a paragraph or two each morning about something of interest to them. I usually look over it and pleasantly talk with them about punctuation and spelling ( I don't say anything if they misspell large words). I'll ask them, "Where does the period go?" I might also explain why a comma would be necessary here or there. I'm not critical of their writing style or the content (even though I don't just love to read a whole page about how hard it is to win at Zoo Tycoon).

With these journal entries, I can actually watch their writing progress over the weeks and months. Our short and sweet discussions on grammar have served to compelled them to apply the correct usage more regularly. I'm noticing capital letters at the beginning of sentences as well as periods where they belong.

I've also noticed that the physical ability to write has improved for both of them. They began by writing three sentences in each entry (with some moaning) and can now write a whole page without whining a bit. The muscles for writing need to be exercised and once they are built, writing isn't such a chore.

I am one of those people who regularly kept a journal through junior high and high school. I believe that journaling nurtures the writer within. However, I don't believe that journaling produces good academic writing; it does, however, make it easier to produce academic writing. As they journal, they are truly learning to regulary apply the rules of grammar they have learned and becoming proficient at writing lengthy pieces. These are two necessary ingredients to producing quality academic writing.

My goals for my boys this year (ages 9 and 11) were that they would learn to spell and learn to write papers, essays and reports. I am pleased that we are well on our way to achieving those goals.

Because of the success I'm experiencing with the boy's writing, I have also implemented journaling with my seven-year old daughter. She's a natural speller (a typical girl) and, though she does quite a bit of copywork, really needs to be challenged to write more. I've already noticed that her ability to write has also improved.

When she did her copywork, her writing was beautiful and perfect. However, when she wrote notes to me or others, her words were all smacked up next to one another with no separation and they were all different sizes. She would throw capital letters into the middle of a word and begin with lower case letters and the like. She was accustomed to producing excellent work when she did her copywork, but was unaccustomed to putting forth effort in personal writing.

I strictly required her journal entries to be done with excellence (Can you hear the whining?). It was hard at first because she had to do a lot of erasing (with an insulted expression on her little face); but after only a few days of this, she began to work harder on her writing. I believe this new practice of working with diligence and meticulous effort on her journal will positively affect her writing in other areas as well.

I would love to hear from some of you who with older students who required your children to journal. Would you consider them reluctant writers, or do they enjoy writing today? I'm really curious to hear personal testimonies on the effects of journaling in the homeschool.

You can post a comment or email me at jeannie@jeanniefulbright.com