Go to this post if you're looking for advice on how to use a journal in kindergarten.
Last week, I feared I'd have to quit homeschooling Grace. I tried to wrap my mind around the logistics of sending a 4-year-old to kindergarten in the public school, and whether they'd even accept her as a transfer from the cyber school at this point in the school year and at her young age.
I was all torn up.
Grace was refusing to do school. She didn't want to do it; I couldn't make her. The point of contention was her kindergarten journal.
Until last week, the writing portion of Grace's homeschool day was reviewing the letters of the alphabet and practicing writing each one. She had been looking forward to the end of that awful handwriting practice with glee.
Unfortunately, what follows handwriting practice is actual writing.
She was angry and sad and tired.
I thought I was done with this stupid writing stuff! she wailed, frustrated tears streaming down her cheeks.
I tried to explain that practicing the letters is the only way to learn to write, and that writing is a good thing, and that I write for my job.
She wanted none of it. She put her head down on the journal, and she sobbed.
Eventually, she lifted her head up, and she said, I'm not going to write in this journal. I don't know what to write about and I don't want to do it and I'm not going to do it.
And then she kicked her sister.
I don't remember how it came to pass that she used a green marker to write I DONT KNOW in very large letters on the first page of her journal. I remember spelling the words for her, but not what transpired between kicking Allie and Grace agreeing to write something.
I didn't even try to do school with her for five days after that. I was afraid of wrecking our beautiful homeschool life.
The one that exists mostly in my mind.
Off and on during the last week, I planted seeds like, "This is something you could write about in your journal!" and "Would you like me to get your journal so that you could draw a picture of this?" She always said no or ignored me, but I kept up with it.
Grace borrowed a book called Fancy Nancy: Explorer Extraordinaire! from the library on Friday, and she curled up on my lap over the weekend to read it.
By the third page, Nancy was writing in a NATURE JOURNAL! I almost squealed with delight as I pointed out the text that was typed in the book and the text that was Nancy's handwriting IN HER JOURNAL!
"Grace! Look! Nancy saw a ladybug! Listen to what she wrote about it! And look! Here's the photograph she took of it! She pasted into her journal! Oh, Grace! Look at this! JoJo scribbled in Nancy's journal! I bet she wants to be a big girl who can write just like you and Nancy!" I was very emphatic and eager.
She asked a lot of questions while we read, but Grace never mentioned her own journal.
Yesterday, Grace said, Do you think Allie would scribble in my kindergarten journal? I said that she probably would because she would like to be able to write like Grace.
Grace didn't respond, just looked at me with one eyebrow raised a little. She was thinking, but she didn't say another word.
Today, I brought out the journal at the beginning of our school time.
I know what I want to write! she said, beaming.
I asked if she wanted to write the date or if I should do it.
I have a lot to write about, so maybe you should write the date.
I wrote the date and handed her the journal. She asked me to help her in sounding out the letters in I am so happy.
I explained that we normally write with one capital letter and the rest lowercase. It was the first time I'd ever explained the use of capital and lowercase letters.
To my surprise, she kept writing. I made A photo of the cactus, she wrote, and then she looked up at me.
I wrote a lot, Mom.
"You sure did. Do you want to say anything else?"
Well, yeah, but... her voice trailed off. (I should get a video one day of her yeah, buuut.)
"Would you like me to finish the sentence for you?"
When I finished transcribing her sentence, I handed the journal back, and Grace drew a picture of the photo she'd worked on earlier. Here's her finished journal entry:
Because it was something she did on my phone, I can include the picture she wrote about. I took this photo a few weeks ago; it's the flower on my Christmas cactus. Grace found it, imported it to the Pixlr-o-matic app, used a filter, added a decoration, and finished it with a frame. She was very pleased with her finished picture.
Grace isn't the only person who's so happy.