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The Benefits of Gratitude Journaling in Your Homeschool

Updated on July 21, 2020
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Joy was homeschooled K-12 in the days before it was popular, and has homeschooled her 2 children since their infancy. She has no regrets.

Combining Creativity and Wisdom

What Gratitude or Thanks Journaling Can Do for Your Children

Kids, as well as adults, can benefit from geatitude journaling. It is a valuable family activity, promoting togetherness and understanding, as well as mental, emotional, and spiritual growth and balance.

It is easy to teach children this kind of journaling, and many of them delight in the challenge of coming up with something brand new every day for which to be thankful.

Kids have a tendency to forget what they've already said or written, repeating a handful of their favorite things, but will usually inspire and challenge each other, if you journal together.

They may also be inspired to notice things other people do for them, and may spintaneously choose to do things for others. Even a somewhat sullen child can become more kind and helpful, through experiencing the power of gratitude.

Should You Keep One Family-Style Journal, or Should Each Child Keep His Own?

The answer to this question will depend on the dynamics of your family, and on what you hope to accomplish with each child. Age and writing ability is, of course, an influencing factor, dictating how much help each child may need. (For the littlest ones, it is often best to write their entry for them, letting them tell you for what they are thankful, and why.) Know that the time you spend with them is well invested, and urge each child to do all he can to be active in learning to find the patterns and surprises in God's goodness and blessings.

If you encourage each child to keep his own thanks journal, you can more readily encourage his writing habits, as well. Take the opportunity to work on grammar, punctuation, spelling, and other facets of good writing--but don't be so strict that journaling becomes a chore for either of you. That is the last thing you want gratitude journaling to be!

Thank you notes to your community, neighbors, and family may be part of this challenge, as well, as most kids love making and sending cards.

Tips and Organization

Keeping a thanks journal with your kids is a profitable and sometimes funny activity, taking only a couple of minutes a day, but sowing huge dividends into each of their lives.

You can begin with a regular notebook, and give each of your children (and yourself!) a chance to say or write at least one thing for which they are thankful. Train them to be specific, and attentive to new things--not just old favorites. Train them, also, to recognize how certain things that don't seem good can lead to great things--better than any you could have made up on your own.

Challenge them with II Thessalonians 5:18: "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Demonstrate this for them by giving thanks for things that seem hard or even bad--then noticing what God does with your heart attitude, and maybe even your circumstances. If nothing else, you will gain strength and fortitude and a can-do attitude, as you see what can be done in the midst of adversity and even suffering. Your children will begin to understand that attitude really does trump circumstances, and is always more important than what they are going through.

Getting More Out of the Journaling Process

Have fun with it.

Tips for Boys

Especially for boys--who are naturally more competitive than most girls--see who can come up with the most specific, or the biggest, or the smallest, or the most personal thanksgiving. See who can get the most entries in their journal inside of a week, or a month. See who can come up with the most in a certain category--for instance:

  • food
  • friends
  • music
  • baseball
  • details of nature

Let them use journals decorated with camouflage, or sports, or whatever represents their favorite activity.

Tips for Girls

For girls--who tend to be more "pretty" oriented--provide a variety of colored pens or markers with which to make their entries. Let them use stickers, sequins, or ribbons to decorate their journals, and also express their different moods through doodling. Scrapbooking supplies can be used, such as stamps, cut-outs, or sticky-dot bling. Help them make something of which they'll be proud, and which shows off their personality.

Inclusion in the Arts, and Unit Studies

For the artists in your midst, allow them time to decorate their own journals, or the family's gratitude journal, with illustrations, photographs, or even small objects related to their entries. If you do unit studies, you might challenge the children to learn calligraphy, or research illuminated manuscripts, and decorate accordingly. You might use art styles reflecting whatever history time period you (or they) are studying.

Incorporating Math

You might include some math (for the less experienced) by having them calculate how many entries they've made over the last month. Have them calculate their average over a month, three months, or a year. Have them see how many entries they make in assorted categories of thought, such as animals, friends, clothes, or sports. Use these figures to help drive home to them exactly how good God is, and how great is His love.


Use these statistics as a jumping off place for a social studies or ministry projects. Challenge them to do something for someone else which is truly generous (from the heart), and to look out for others. Best of all, do something together, demonstrating for them how to look out for others, joyfully.

Scripture Study Challenges

Challenge yourselves as a family to memorize Scriptures which speak of giving thanks. (Use a concordance to get started, looking up the words "praise", "thanks", and "thanksgiving".) Thank the Lord for these, and let them do their work in your hearts.

See what God says in His Word about unthankful people. There is quite a lot of discussion in the psalms, and in several of the Apostle Paul's letters.

Study the lives of people who were thankful in the midst of danger, suffering, and seemingly hopeless circumstances. I suggest some of the famous people of God, such as Amy Carmichael, "Brother Andrew", Richard Wurmbrand, Corrie Ten Boom, Eric Liddel, and, of course, King David and the Apostle Paul. David never left God hanging in even his saddest or angriest songs, always coming around to an ending of praise. I believe this is why he is called a man after God's own heart. Likewise, Paul maintained a heart of joy even while writing from a prison cell running with raw sewage (Philippians).

Most of all, allow the process of learning to give thanks work joy in your hearts, and reflect God from the midst of your beings. He truly does inhabit the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3 ).

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Growing and Developing Through Journaling

Your Journaling

Do you keep any kind of a journal?

See results

Photo Attribution

Photo sources and contributors:

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sweetlouise / 471 images

© 2012 Joilene Rasmussen


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