Is Journaling Enough?


Special thanks to Tanielle from Teaching on the Road Australia for authoring this article:

 

Personally I think no, journaling is not enough in its most simple form. However, you can enrich the task of journaling and make it much more if you are prepared to put in a little bit of effort with your child. The simple task of a journal can tell you a lot about your child’s knowledge and abilities and their weaknesses and strengths. In my own personal view, I consider journaling as a perfect starting point, the place of inspiration. That one journal can guide the bulk of your teaching.

 

Here are some tips to enrich journaling

 

If your child is 5-7 years of age, ask them child to identify the day, month and date. You can pose the question “What day was it yesterday?” and “What day will it be tomorrow?” This will help them learn the days of the week, the months and understand how many days are in a month. This task will teach them to spell the days of the week and months and also identify that these things are proper nouns that require capital letters.

 

Ask them to locate on a map where they are. Print a map, draw a map and mark each time they do a journal where they are and write their location. This will help develop their knowledge and understanding of Australia, distances and enhance their geographical knowledge.

Challenge your child to recall as much detail and as many events from a day as possible and check that they are putting them in sequential order. This may not even be in writing. This may be a conversation that you have with your child prior to them completing their journal. The ability to recall information is a skill and the more that you do it the better they will get at recalling. Use prompts to help them remember if they are young like “What else did we do after we ate our lunch that involved getting wet?”

 

Discuss with them which events would you like to go back and read about when you read that journal. This helps them to consider the audience of their text (which is a recount). Is writing about what you ate for lunch interesting? Would you want to read about that in a year? For the later years of primary encourage your child to write in great detail describing a few events from the day rather than simply listing the things that they did.

 

Ensure that your child is able to write in past tense, and if they are not then this is something to work on in their journal and creates discussion for you.

 

When writing, encourage them to use time connectives like today, yesterday, on the weekend, first, next, last, finally, eventually, soon after and so on (you can Google time connectives for some more inspiration).

Ask your child to personally reflect on their day. I do this by asking them to write a memorable moment (or positive moment) and to give their day a rating out of 5 stars. This allows them to stop and consider how they felt about their day. It also creates a talking opportunity. When you realise that your child has rated the day with a one star you would obviously want to talk to them about why that day wasn’t enjoyable. Asking them to write a memorable moment allows them to find something positive in their day and focus on a positive mindset which will contribute to their overall happiness within themselves.

 

If you have a child who is in the later years of primary then I would also recommend that you encourage your child at the end of every journal to write three questions. Maybe it is three things they would like to know more about or it could even take on a more personal perspective. These questions may lend themselves to opportunities for conversations that wouldn’t otherwise arise or even research opportunities that will expand your child’s knowledge and research abilities.

 

Once written you could also encourage your child to draw a picture, print a photo or even glue in some brochure cut outs that are relevant from the day. This could extend further into an opportunity to use other media like oil pastels, water colour pencils or exploring techniques like cross hatching.

 

Prior to your child closing their book and saying they are done you should prompt them to review and check their work by saying “Go back over your writing and read it yourself”. “Have you included full stops, capital letters, paragraphs or any other punctuation?” Keep the punctuation prompts relevant to your child’s age.

 

Occasionally ask your child to read you their journal. This will build their public speaking skills and funnily enough when they read it out loud they will hear their mistakes. If they are not confident reading it out loud then you should ask them to do so more often. Focus on shoulders back and down, chest proud, confident voice. Ask questions like “Did that make sense?” If they read you a sentence that is incorrect.

 

At this point, YOU should read and reflect on what they have written. Look for spelling mistakes and consider if the spelling mistakes offer you a teaching opportunity. For example does your child know that er/ur/ir all make the same sound and when to use them. Do they know how to add suffixes to a word and the rules that accompany them like ‘drop the ‘e’ to add ‘ing’ in making, baking, creating. Check that they are writing challenging sentences (we call them simple, compound and complex sentences). Make a note of spelling errors and over a fortnight come up with some mini spelling/grammar lesson opportunities.

 

If you want to take it further, encourage your child to go back over their writing and underline the nouns in one colour, verbs in another, adjectives, pronouns, etc. This will help you discover if your child knows what they are and can identify them. This can be particularly useful to identify adjectives and ask them if they have used enough adjectives to make their writing interesting.

 

Finally, each week you might like to take something from their journal and ask them to research it further. It could be a simple as research and write about an animal that we saw this week, a place that we have been to and further research a significant sight.

 

By doing this you have done so much more than just write a journal. Let’s consider how many outcomes from the National Curriculum you could touch upon. For the sake of this example, I have based these outcomes on a Year 4 level.

 

English

  • Create text that explore students’ own experiences
  • Identify characteristic features used in informative texts to meets the purpose of the text
  • Re-read and edit for meaning by adding, deleting or moving words or word groups to improve content and structure.
  • Write using clearly-formed joined letter and develop increased fluency and automaticity
  • Incorporate new vocabulary from a range of sources into students’ own texts including vocabulary encountered in research.

 

Maths

  • Use simple scales, legends and directions to interpret information contained in basic maps
  • Use ‘am’ and ‘pm’ notation and solve simple time problems

 

HASS

  • Pose questions to investigate people, events, places and issues
  • Locate and collect information and datafrom different sources, including observations
  • Sequence information about people’s lives and events
  • Describe and compare the characteristics of placesin different locations at local to national scales.

 

Visual arts

  • Use materials, techniques and processes to explore visual conventions when making artworks

If you would like to hear more about homeschooling while travelling, listen to an interview here


Homeschooling While Travelling


How is homeschooling going? Does the school send you stuff? Will your kids have to repeat a year? Are you doing school of the air? Aren’t you worried that your kids will be behind when you get back?

Some of the questions we get asked daily.

We didn’t know what to think when we were heading into the meeting with the school principal to let her know of our plans… what hoops would we have to jump through? Even though we now knew that so many families are educating their kids on the road, there was still the doubt as to whether or not we’d even be approved?


It was safe to say that we were pretty relieved when the principal told us, “go, have a great time, your kids will learn way more travelling Australia then they ever would here.”

That was before we even told her we’d written up a draft curriculum!

So what does homeschool look like for us?

Well, after we got a copy of the Australian Curriculum to make sure we’re aiming for the right milestones…

 

DAILY THEMES

Deep down we thought that if we didn’t have a focus for each day, we’d end up doing more of what Chloe (and we) loved, and less in other areas. To avoid falling behind, we worked with Chloe to help her choose a theme for each day. These were:

Mathletics Mondays. To start the week we complete pages from her maths workbook (or workbooks if we don’t happen to catch sneaking in some extra!), and also our Bank of Mum of Dad. An excel spreadsheet that her pocket money is ‘deposited’ into each week, withdrawals are made, and she learns about compound interest each week. WARNING: Don’t be like Daddy. Don’t set 1% per month just because it sounds easier, it’ll send you broke.

Tumbling Tuesdays. A physical education focus day, where we try to develop gross motor skills. That’s a fancy way of saying we love doing cartwheels, handstands, yoga, and hiking just as much as Chloe and Elliot. Also, this means that hopefully Chloe won’t fall behind too much when she returns to her beloved calisthenics.

EDIT: We’ve since come to the conclusion that we love doing this so much, it’s an everyday thing! It’s now been replaced with Choosing Tuesday, where we learn about topics of Chloe’s and Elliot’s choice. Our planet and the solar system have blowing their cute little minds!

Rhyming Wednesdays. English spelling, grammar, poetry, and reading comprehension focus day. There’s not just poetry on this day, but ironically couldn’t think of anything else that rhymed with Wednesday.

Thinking Thursday. Our language focus day. We mainly use this day for written practice of the Indonesia we’re practicing in the car, but also Duolingo practice on maintaining here Year 1 Japanese.

Frying Friday. We cook, mostly trying something new each week, starting out with easier recipes. Rather than focus just on the end result, we use each recipe as an opportunity to learn a new skill in the kitchen so that it can be applied in future/harder cooking sessions. Here’s Chloe’s Kids Cooking Corner

So how long are these sessions?

Well, we’ve found that on most days this is all done and dusted by the time the first bell would have rang at School. It’s amazing at how much one-on-one focussed attention brings out in learning… sometimes we actually have to slow down.

 

USING OUR TRAVELS AS A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY

Trips to Questacon, zoos, museums in each town, science centres, art galleries… the list goes on (many are either free or cheaper than school tuition if you get memberships).

Whenever we go to a place of interest, we set Chloe (and Elliot) units of enquiry. This typically consists of 3-5 questions that need to be answered.

A great example of this is the Naracoorte Caves, where questions needed to be answered such as what is the difference between a stalactite vs. stalagmite, what are the caves made of, why are there sea shells in the wall, etc.

An unexpected benefit of this approach is confidence building – when tour guides don’t initially provide the answers, the kids are prompted to ask them.

Bonus:

Some attractions do this work for you! A big thank you to the Canberra Mint and also the Marine Discovery Centre in Eden, NSW. These places give children a workbook on entry to answer questions. Both have written them in a way that makes them age appropriate for anyone from a first grader to a grown adult (we learned stuff doing the books ourselves!). These two places are somewhere I’d put on the ‘must visit’ list if you’re homeschooling, or your remotely interested in your kids’ education!

 

DAILY JOURNAL

Keeping a daily journal at first involved Chloe writing two sentences then wanting to run off to play. A more guided approach was needed. Some ideas off Pinterest and Nat was putting her artistic skills to work.

Now Chloe’s daily recount template is looking like it’s going to be a great way of capturing memories, and the entries also form the basis for our spelling and grammar lessons.

These are all stuck in a scrap book alongside the pamphlets, tickets, recipes, and units of enquiry for the day.

Our first is finished, with some of our favourite entries here on Facebook

Homeschool update! Keeping a daily journal at first involved Chloe writing two sentences then wanting to run off to play…

Posted by A Big Peachey Adventure on Wednesday, April 11, 2018

 

DAILY LIFE IS THE BIGGEST OPPORTUNITY

Being aware of kids’ education, and realising it’s something that is ‘on us now’, has opened our eyes up to the everyday learning opportunities available. Some of the daily things we do include:

* Money – encouraging our kids to order meals, pay for items, counting change, etc

* Speed, Time, & Distance – when in the car working through “how long before we’re there yet”

* Languages – the car is our favourite place for us learning Indonesian as a family

* Google and YouTube – supervised use of the internet is invaluable. When random questions are asked

For Mr I’ve-Just-Turned-Four, some little things that have helped are:

* Days of the Week – sung to the tune of ‘The Adams Family’ intro. It’s now Elliot’s job to keep track of what day it is for us!

* Months of the Year – sung to the tune of ‘Ten Little Indians’

* Number Recognition – clock-watching in the car (this is a ‘3’, when you see the ‘3’ again it’s snack time)

OfficeWorks (and occasionally Aldi) have some great workbooks – activities for the kids which are age/school level appropriate.

 

Are we still worried about our children’s’ academic future?

Yes.

Why?

We’re worried that they’ll be bored out of their brains when they return to a real classroom.

If you have any other ideas we’d love to hear them in the comments below?


Podcast: Homeschooling on the Road


How can you ensure your homeschooled kids don’t fall behind their peers?

Where should you start when planning your kid’s curriculum?

What mistakes should parents avoid when homeschooling (especially when travelling)?

What are some of the best resources to use when homeschooling?

What should you check for if you pick up workbooks from the big-box stores?

Home school vs. distance education?

How long do you spend each day?

We’re with Tenielle (www.teachingontheroadaustralia.com.au ) to cover all of these questions… and more!

 

Also available on SticherRadio PublicCastbox, Overcast, PodBean, Breaker,and Pocket Casts

 

Click here for more episodes of The Family Travel Podcast

 

The most important document discussed is here (www.australiancurriculum.edu.au), however some of the other great resources mentioned in this episode include: RIC Publications (www.ricgroup.com.au), iMaths (www.fireflyeducation.com.au/imaths), Borrow Box (www.borrowbox.com), Sunshine Online (www.sunshineonline.com.au), Trump Cards (www.trumpcardgame.com), and Teachers Pay Teachers (www.teacherspayteachers.com)