Bookshelf & Beyond Title Text
with Curriculum Consultants:

Deanne Crawford & Gina Burmeier

Homeschooling Boldly with Gratefulness

ears flowed once again as my daughter and I struggled through her latest math lesson. Hanging my head in frustration, I silently cried out to the Lord, “HELP!” While I did not audibly hear Him, I felt a sense of calmness flow through me and His words flowed over me, “I have called you to this. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for I am with you,” (Joshua 1:9). He then reminded me of all the difficulties we have faced together: in marriage, parenting, and homeschooling. As I reflected on what He brought to mind, I looked at my daughter and smiled. “Honey,” I said, “Let’s take a deep breath and refocus.” I shared what the Lord was showing me. We then spent a few minutes talking about the times God had shown up in the past and how thankful we were that God was with us in this journey.

At the heart of homeschooling boldly is gratitude for all the Lord has done and is doing in our families. Teaching our children to see God in action and to be grateful for all He is doing is important. Honestly, I struggled with this personally and in teaching my children how to be grateful. Yes, I had the big “aha” moments, like in the story above. But, in the everyday, the challenge was real. While not experts on thankfulness, using the acronym GRATEFUL, we wanted to share some ideas to inspire gratefulness which ultimately leads to a bold, unapologetic homeschool life!
Image of Gratitude Journals
Gratitude Journal Text
Joining the chorus of pro-journal voices, I encourage you to keep a written journal of God’s blessings in your life. Take time to write down the big and small ways He has shown up in your life. When times get tough (and they will!) pull out your journal and read your grateful list out loud to your children. While any notebook works, a special journal may inspire faithfulness. It is through faithful recording that we more easily see God moments that we miss in the everyday.

Seasoned in the practice of journaling? Peter Pauper Press’ Wherever You Go, Go with All Your Heart and Be Strong and Courageous Artisan journals, and the Hachette She Is Clothed with Strength & Dignity Journal are lovely options. If you have started the journaling journey and find yourself struggling with the daily dilemma, Peter Pauper Press’ Daily Dose of Blessings or Daily Dose of Gratitude journals provide guided questions and thoughts to help with focus, which is valuable for many of us at the end of a long day. As part of her learning journey, Deanne encouraged her children to journal starting at a young age through “eye-spy” writings. Throughout the day, she encouraged them to share or write down when God showed up in a tough situation or an answer to prayer. She found that she was inspired just as much as her children in sharing these “eye-spy” moments! Younger children may also benefit from Peter Pauper Press’ My First Prayer Journal for preschool to about age 8, or the Bedtime Blessings Gratitude Journal for 6 years and up. Young ones will appreciate the adorable illustrations, simple lines, and prayers in My First Prayer Journal. This would also be fun for toddlers or young preschoolers to snuggle up with you as you share the prayer prompts together before bed! It is never too early to begin the habit of appreciating all God does for us! Bedtime Blessings’ brightly colored pages will appeal to elementary age children. Open-ended questions and space to write responses give children a way to end the day reflecting about all the ways the Lord has blessed them.

Homeschooling Crafts
Recognize text
Recognize this is a journey. Creating a habit of gratitude comes easier for some than others. If gratefulness is challenging, find ways to inspire the journey. Introduce special writing implements. Fun, colorful writing tools have been shown to help children want to write. Some of our favorite writing tools include the Glitter Gel Pens from Sargent Art® or the Acroball Color Medium Point Pens from Pilot®. Parents and teens will love expressing themselves through these quality, smooth writing—and best of all, smear-free—pens available in an assortment of vivid colors. Not ready to turn children loose with pens but want a fun writing experience? How about a Smencil® from Scentco? Smencils® are #2 graphite (or mechanical) pencils made from recycled newspapers with fun scents like strawberry cheesecake, orange soda, watermelon, and pineapple! Check out the yummy Christmas scents, which make great stocking stuffers! Christmas scents include sugar plum, mint cocoa, gingerbread, and candy cane.
Attitude Text
Attitude is everything. Having the right perspective is half the battle. Did you know you have over 6,000 daily thoughts? Think about your personal thought process. Do you start your day with, “What is going to go wrong today?” or “I am excited to begin a new day of adventure!” You have the power to choose your attitude. Gina’s kids usually followed suit with the kind of frame of mind she brought to the school day. When we homeschool, our kids see us at our very best and sometimes our very worst. But even at our worst, we have the opportunity to show humility and ask for forgiveness. That’s a lesson learned, too. Again, looking at the things you are grateful for prompts a better outlook. For books on positive attitudes, the Positive Power Series by Penguin Random House for young readers includes books with stories that teach kids the power of positive affirmation. Joseph Had a Little Overcoat is another children’s book by Penguin Random House that teaches about making the best of what you have.
Thank You Notes Text
Writing thank you notes is a lost art in our digital world. Encourage your children to write a personal thank you to a grandparent or friend. Saying thank you for a gift, a word of encouragement, or even the blessing of a relationship helps develop gratitude in ourselves, our children, and the recipient. Use special paper or thank you notes. Young ones can also color a thank you note to send! PA Distribution offers quality constructed Assorted Pastel Card sets (with coordinating envelopes!), which can be used to send out a special thank you. Color Your Own Thank You Cards from Sterling Publishing gives children of all ages the opportunity to express their unique style and share their appreciation! Sold in boxed sets, each set includes twenty cards to color, envelopes, five double-sided activity sheets (games, puzzles, coloring pages, etc.), and over 100 colorful stickers. This is a great way to engage children in showing their thankfulness. Teens will also appreciate the opportunity to show their gratitude and style with the 20 Minute Studio Card Making Kit for Beginners from Faber Castell. Each craft kit includes five cards and corresponding envelopes, five watercolor pencils, paintbrush, Pitt Artist Pen, five stencil design sheets, wood stick, sheet of transfers, and design guide. With such an assortment of tools, creating beautiful mixed media designs will flow naturally! Imagine the delight on the recipient’s face when they receive a uniquely created thank you note. It is a win-win. Be a blessing to others and cultivate a habit of thankfulness in your children.
Every Learning Style Text
It is important that we keep in mind our children’s learning styles as we encourage them in the gratitude journey. It is so easy to focus on dashing off a quick thank you letter or journal entry, but for some of our children the added stress of the written word becomes a stumbling block! If you have a different type of learner, engage them in this journey using their strengths. Learning to be grateful is a journey of its own, and not necessarily an academic one. Depending on your child’s learning style or differences, here are a few ideas to inspire their unique gratitude journey.

Allow artistic children to sketch or draw their gratitude list using a special sketchbook and pencils. Hands-on learners will thrive when allowed to build a gratitude list. One of Deanne’s favorite activities at Thanksgiving every year was to draw a tree trunk on white paper to hang on the wall. Using construction paper in autumn foliage colors, I traced the children’s hands to use as leaves. Each day we would write one thing we were thankful for on the construction paper leaves and hang them on our tree. We did this through the month of November, and on Thanksgiving Day we would read each of our leaves as part of our Thanksgiving celebration. This is an activity that can be done throughout the year, so don’t limit yourself to a Thankful Tree. Use (or make!) craft flowers and flower petals in the spring and summer. Make snowflakes in the winter using black construction paper and chalk or white pencils.

Homeschool Coloring Crafts
“We then spent a few minutes talking about the times God had shown up in the past and how thankful we were that God was with us in this journey.”
Other children will thrive by orally sharing their gratitude. You could just sit and list things, but make it more fun by using colorful math rods or pick up sticks. Let each color represent a different topic. For example, red is a person, blue is a thing, yellow is food, and green is a place. You get the idea. Place the colorful rods or sticks in a pillowcase or brown bag. Reach in and pull one out, then share what you are thankful for in that category. If your children are constantly in motion, make a game out of their gratitude list. Toss the ball, catch it, and share. You get the idea! The key here is to motivate children in their gratitude journey through their strengths. And the beauty here is by adding a few indispensable items, they are flexible for all sorts of different activities and learning centers. Here are a few of our favorite “tools of the trade” for multi-sensory teaching: Melissa and Doug’s® multi-color Wooden Pick-Up Sticks, Crayola’s Project Construction Paper, Pacon’s fade resistant True Ray Construction Paper, Toysmith’s Classic Oball™, or the Crocodile Creek textured rubber Playground Balls. BPA and PVC free, they are available in a 5” or 7” size, and a variety of fun designs. Deanne’s toddler grandson loves to roll, bounce, and even kick his 5” shark ball!
Homeschool Books and Playground Balls
Forward: Pay it Forward Text
This is Deanne’s favorite way to inspire gratefulness. When someone does something nice for you, pass the favor forward. Whether returning a favor or finding someone else in need and doing something kind for them, consider the blessing that comes from being included in someone else’s gratitude list! More than that, we are teaching our children to be a blessing. As God pours blessing into our lives through others, we can reach out and pour into someone else. While this is often more “caught than taught” with school-age children, introduce good deeds to younger children through a quick game of Super Me™ from United States Playing Card Games. Teaching children the importance of empathy, helping others, and social skills, it plays a bit like Memory, only players hold the matches in their hands. Lay down the twenty-four Emergency cards in a grid pattern, then deal each player Super Me™! cards. On your turn, flip over an Emergency card, and look in your hand for the matching card that will show a child superhero solving the problem. The game also includes a second level of play, challenging children to come up with solutions to the emergencies by themselves.
Ultimate Goal Text
Keeping your ultimate goal in mind will help you stay refreshed and focused and recall your appreciation for homeschooling. Your goal is not to “dot all your Is and cross all your T’s” just so you can check things off the list. Remember to review why you started homeschooling in the first place. You might have an off day where all you are doing is training or reteaching. Those things are important, too. Then you can get back on track and have a more fruitful outcome when your kids are doing academics. Teaching From Rest by Classical Academic Press is a book that will help you reflect on your gratitude and focus on God and the reasons you are homeschooling. If you are wanting help with creating an environment with a love of learning and leadership in your homeschool, the Christian Leadership Series by Ranger Press is worth a look. Raising Leaders, Not Followers gives practical, hands-on ways to implement quality leadership in your home. Clear direction is given to parents to teach children how to become Christian leaders and thinkers and create a love of learning in your homeschool. Teach Children How to Think with Mentoring gives teaching and coaching tips as the author discusses with your children practical ways to raise Christian leaders in our world today.
Life Skills Text
While academics are very important, as homeschoolers we understand every moment is an opportunity to learn. Teaching life skills to children builds their confidence and helps them feel grateful as they learn new things and contribute to the household. It is valuable training as they become more independent and grow into adulthood. It isn’t always easy to take time to teach kids how to cook, do laundry, change a tire, etc., but it is worth the investment. Life Skills for Kids by Penguin Random House is a practical guide helping parents incorporate life skill training into everyday life so you don’t have to make room for yet another activity. Topics covered include responsibility, people skills,home skills, life navigation, time organization, space organization, maintaining and fixing things around the house, managing money, healthy grooming habits, using your brain, forming good spiritual habits, making decisions, creativity, and finding joy in everyday life. Shop Class for Everyone: Practical Life Skills in 83 Projects by Workman Publishing Company is another great resource for older children teaching anything from domestic repair to plumbing and electrical work.

Homeschooling can bring about a mélange of emotion: happiness when your day is flowing smoothly and the kids are responding well, frustration when there are interruptions or when a new concept isn’t sinking in, joy when you are all together enjoying an engaging book, and sadness when you need to exercise discipline during a teachable moment. However, when you press on and remember why you are homeschooling along with the aspiring end goal, the emotions blend into one of gratitude. We are grateful for the opportunity to teach our kids; grateful we can be one-on-one with our child when they are struggling; grateful for being able to come together as a family; grateful for the times we can teach, correct, and train our children. And at the end of your journey, you will certainly see the benefits. Most importantly, teaching gratitude and exemplifying this attribute is a valuable life lesson that will stay with your children their entire lives.

Gina and Deanne are part of a team of homeschool consultants at Rainbow Resource Center. If you have any questions regarding homeschooling, be sure to reach out to one of us! We are here to help you in this journey!

Deanne & Gina signatures
Gina Burmeier and Deanne Crawford  headshots

ainbow Resource Center education consultants Gina Burmeier and Deanne Crawford provide a wide range of services to homeschool families. “Retired” homeschool moms with unique experiences, they each have a passion to equip homeschool families. With experiences ranging from educating their own children, serving in local homeschool coops and communities, and more, Gina and Deanne provide a breadth of experience to meet a variety of homeschool needs. Gina has taught three children with diverse interests and talents; Deanne has taught two children with very different learning styles and abilities. Combined, they have nearly forty years experience in education and spend their work days doing product comparisons, recording instructional videos, and talking with homeschool parents. They frequently can be found online and at homeschool conventions, presenting encouraging and informational workshops, as well as answering curriculum questions.