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Thankfulness/Gratitude Journal

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    Thankfulness/Gratitude Journal

    I'm wondering, how much guidance do you give when students are completing Thankfulness Journals? Ana (15) has been completing hers but it's sooooo repetitive and not very sincere, kwim? It's all "I'm thankful for my sister." the next day "I'm thankful for my brother." and on and on for pages being thankful for basically family members and food. It's always one or other other, lol!

    Anyway, I was wondering if there's a way I could give some sort of gentle guidance to steer her in different directions? Expand her horizons? At least until she's got her own unique ideas. Right now she is just filling it out because she's told to, she doesn't actually 'feel' thankful for much in general. She still seems to have the internalized "woe is me" attitude. Now, don't get me wrong, she's generally very sweet and helpful and all! But I can tell she's stewing over perceived injustices (usually not having junk food or her own cell phone or having rules vs birth family who had no rules) and it comes out when she gets mad about something. So I'd like to help her really internalize the thankfulness exercise and develop a thankful heart.

    Has anyone done thankfulness journal weeks on a theme? Like "I am thankful for these people: 1. 2. 3." or "I am thankful for these books:" and so on.

    Re: Thankfulness/Gratitude Journal

    I like that idea of a thankfulness theme. Like a writing prompt.

    On one hand, you want them to come up with their own 'thankfulness', but our special kids seem to need more guidance in this arena. Even a weekly theme like 'family' and then a couple of prompts on that theme (I'm thankful for my sister because... I'm thankful mom made blank for supper because. ... I'm thankful my friend did (very nice thing) because...

    Any takers on a list of thankfulness prompts?
    Married to DH for 14 years. Living the rural life in the Colorado mountains

    DS11- Simply Classical 5/6
    DD9- Simply Classical 5/6 (neurotypical, but schooling with big brother to save mom's sanity)
    DD 6- Classic Core First Grade

    We've completed:
    Classic Core Jr. kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, and second grade.
    Simply Classical levels B, C, 1, 2, 3, and 4.


      Re: Thankfulness/Gratitude Journal

      For now, you might remind her to focus on the specifics of the day, as instructed in the beginning of the journal. Generalized repetition is not allowed. Each day must be examined for its own unique items. (This is the way they begin to view each day differently and break those patterns of complaining.)

      Broad items, e.g., "sister" do not suffice with the day-by-day view. "What did she do today that makes you thankful for her?" Similarly, "dinner" is less helpful to them than "the way Dad grilled the burgers tonight."

      In the beginning, my prompts were geared less by theme than by specifics according to the time of day. We completed ours in the evening (still do), so it is a reflection on the day before bed. "Which book or lesson did you most enjoy this mornimg?" "Who did you see this afternoon?" "What was your favorite food at lunch today?" "Remember, we saw that silly robin shaking herself off in the bird bath today?" Target details, unexpected fun moments, surprises.

      We find that keeping it unlimited (e.g., not determined by a set theme) offers more options for the unexpected. One day it might all be food items, if we had an especially good dinner. Another day it might be nearly all names of people, if we ran multiple errands and unexpectedly saw and talked with people we knew at the bank, the grocery store, and the post office.

      However, ... if themes would help, certainly try them!

      Snacks and Meals
      Places we visit
      Comforts of Home
      Family members (not just names, but "why")
      Mom (specifics)
      Dad (specifics)
      Being homeschooled
      My bedroom
      Favorite clothes and shoes
      My toys/dolls/stuffed animals
      Things and people at church
      My pet(s)
      Favorite foods my mom makes
      Restaurants we visit

      Whether using the technique of becoming more observant and thankful for each day, or using themes as prompts, one key is watching ourselves. If we habitually complain out loud about all of the little annoyances of each day, this doesn't help. We can model being thankful. "How fun to see Mrs. Klein and Joey at the store. We haven't seen them in a long time." "Dad's grilled chicken was perfect tonight." "I enjoyed seeing the heron fly overhead this morning." You could have a brainstorming session prior to writing for the day, in which you contribute. We did this for years, and still do sometimes. They are more Thinking Prompts than writing prompts. After doing this for 6 months or so, you will begin to see that you are "training" her to see things differently, more appreciatively.

      (I have no idea why this was so long! Carry on....)

      Good topic --



        Re: Thankfulness/Gratitude Journal

        "Bookmarking this" for the Fall! Thanks for the tips!

        A piggy back:

        Cheryl - you began these journals with your preschoolers. How did you implement this? I would like to start my son (age 6 when we begin) with something like this. He does like to draw pictures, but I see that being a distraction at bedtime. Did you just write for them? I can also see my son just plain not answering....... *frustrated face*

        DD1 8/23/09 - SC5/6
        DS2 9/1/11 - SC3,4, 5/6 combo
        DD3 2/9/13 -SC2 to start, MP1 second semester

        Previous Years
        DD 1 (MPK, SC2 (with AAR), SC3, SC4’
        DS2 (SCB, SCC, MPK, SC2)
        DD3 (SCA, SCB, Jr. K workbooks, soaking up from the others, MPK)


          Re: Thankfulness/Gratitude Journal

          Yes, I wrote. In those days, the journal was only for my son. We began when he was four.

          I treated it more like an interview, and I wrote his answers. And, yes, much coaxing was needed! (The same was true for thank-you notes to grandmas.)

          "Being thankful" might be abstract at first, so you can ask, "What was your favorite thing about today?" See if anything stands out.

          If not, you can be more specific. "What did you like the most about supper?" Have your pencil poised to write, like a secretary, so he knows you will be taking his answers seriously and writing them down. Even if he just says "mashed potatoes," or "pudding," you might expand it to a sentence out loud, as you write, "I AM THANKFUL FOR MASHED POTATOES AND PUDDING."

          Then keep going. Keep it all short & simple. "What was the best thing your big sister (or dad) did for you today?"

          You might aim for a total of only two or three things per day at first. Work up to five, as in the journal.

          If you would like, after you jot down his answers, you can teach him the concept of giving thanks by leading him in a brief prayer of thanksgiving for these things. For example, "Thank you, Lord, for the blessings of this day. We thank you, especially, for having mashed potatoes at dinner, pudding for dessert, and for Dad playing baseball with - son's name - in the backyard. 'Every good and perfect gift is from above,' so we give thanks to you for all of these blessings. Amen."

          Bonus: This also practices composing, writing, and reading complete sentences!


            Re: Thankfulness/Gratitude Journal

            For anyone who might be wondering, here is the link to My Thankfulness Journals, or you can create your own.


              Re: Thankfulness/Gratitude Journal

              Cheryl thank you for ideas on how to draw out the responses...we need to reboot.

              Ds was doing very well with his then in the last few months it suddenly became lists of quarterbacks
              I think it maybe age thing and a refection of a new fixation but we need to shift back to being observant and thankful about more than just the NFL draft ha.

              What particularly I am seeing is suddenly since around his b-day the journal being very private, his not wanting to share, did any of you ever have this with older kids?
              I was thinking perhaps I need to get him a separate journal for private thoughts and trying to get him to work with me on the thankfulness journal again right now he wants to use it but just not show me...
              Winter 2020 :
              DD - Graduated!
              DS - core 10 with remediation/support
              DD - core 7 with remediation/support
              DS - core 5 with remediation/support


                Re: Thankfulness/Gratitude Journal

                Originally posted by MaggieAnnie View Post
                I was thinking perhaps I need to get him a separate journal for private thoughts and trying to get him to work with me on the thankfulness journal again right now he wants to use it but just not show me...
                This sounds like a good idea! With your "re-boot," you can explain that you are first going to help him expand the items in his Thankfulness Journal (i.e., beyond the NFL draft!). After he learns and practices this broadening, he can eventually keep his Thankfulness Journal reasonably private. Explain that you will need to check briefly from time to time, but otherwise his prayers are his own.

                We do this now here. Sometimes my son will want to show me, or my daughter announces excitedly what she will give thanks for that day, but otherwise it is now mainly a private devotion.


                  Re: Thankfulness/Gratitude Journal

                  My boys will be doing SC2 in the fall, and I'd love to implement a thankfulness journal with them. If I do it as an interview, would the one MP sells work for them? They'll be 9 and 10, and I think by spring they may be able to write it themselves. Thanks, Lillian


                    Re: Thankfulness/Gratitude Journal

                    Yes! You could have one for each child. Just be sure to order Beginner. You would write, interview style, for them at first.

                    When they know enough cursive to trace, perhaps by spring as you suggest, they can take over. The Beginner level is in list form, so sentence composition is not a needed skill. You would need to help with only spelling.

                    In Intermediate, which they could tackle after SC 2 or 3, they compose their own sentences.