The Commonplace

· Journaling,Homeschool

As a journal-keeper and note-taker and word-savorer, I love to use notebooks and pens to scribble down the mundane and the miraculous. One of my favorite journals is my Commonplace Book. You've probably heard of them but in case you haven't...

The practice of keeping Commonplaces goes back centuries - at least to the 1500s. Mine go back to my junior high years - when I found quotes and passages that seemed crucial to save. I didn't know they were called Commonplace Books then - they were just notebooks!

I've used small ring binders, cute (small) spiral notebooks, nice bound journals. For me, the key is SMALL-ish. I'm not sure why this is. Some folks are able to Commonplace on normal sized paper. Not me.

The other necessity (for me!) is pens and markers - of all colors and inks. Some people prefer a dignified black ink. Not me.

Some Commonplace books are works of art: sketches made and artwork glued, stickers and lace. Not mine - they're just dashed words.

Some people keep their Commonplaces based on specific themes of interest: literary quotes, biblical passages, poems, nature details, hymn stanzas, etc. Mine tend to be a mish-mash. I turn to my Commonplace for things that don't always go into my normal journal: quotes, stanzas, passages. These gleanings may work their way into my journaling - as I ponder and mull. I read something that stirs - something that needs to be saved - I grab my current Commonplace and scribble it in. I've gone years without recording anything and days of recording several things.

Commonplace Books can then be flipped through for inspiration or encouragement - reminders of words that have meant something to me at some time. Or ignored on a shelf - for a time to come.

I'd encourage Commonplace Books for kids but - please - this is not a homeschool thing! It's a treasure hunt - not a lesson. I would suggest that Commonplace notebooks not be used for copywork or handwriting practice or spelling or grammar. These books should be expressions of the child - notebooks that they'll look at one day and learn something about their young self. Encourage them to notice words and phrases that they read - to heed the stirring within - and then capture them in ink on a page.

You'd like to do a Commonplace Book but don't know where to start? Grab a notebook and pen and copy this:

Great thoughts go best with common duties.

~ Bishop Brooke Foss Westcott (b. 1825)

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