I was so excited to start homeschooling. New curriculum, new supplies, the smell of sharpened pencils. Unfortunately, the newness wore off pretty quickly. It was replaced by confusion and frustration. I was keeping every students tasks to complete in my head. Not just their tasks but also their progress. How many more lessons until the next unit? How many letter sounds do we still need to cover? Which book are we reading this week? On and on.
When it came time to learn, I would give my students their assignment. Of course, the second I got in a place where I couldn’t help them they would ask a clarifying question. Or more often than not, “What was I supposed to be doing?” I would have to think really hard to remember what it was they were supposed to be doing.
My brain was so overworked just keeping us floating, that by the time dinner came around I couldn’t remember basic instructions, like how long to set the timer.
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So, everyday, my brain is fried and so is dinner.
What’s a mom to do?
August of 2016, I was determined to do better. I gave each of my children a bullet journal. The results have been better than I imagined.
If you are someone who has never heard of a bullet journal, watch this 5 minute video and then come back.
A Homeschool Bullet Journal Easily Keeps Track of Student Assignments
Anyone who has been homeschooling for more than a month understands how challenging it is to keep track of student assignments. The more children you have, the more the challenge. Bullet journals make it easy to give and keep track of assignments.
A bullet journal offers one place to write down all of the assignments for one student. Each day (or week) write out the assignments that student needs to complete each day.
Really? That’s it?
That’s the beginning.
Think of how wonderful it would be if students didn’t have to constantly ask, “What am I supposed to be doing?”
Assigning tasks takes me about 10 minutes a week per kid. They are nothing fancy. Just a list with a dot next to each item.’ Thirty minutes a week that saves me countless moments of irritation.
When asked, “What am I supposed to be doing?” The answer, “Check your list.”
Keep Track of Assignments
At any time, you can look at their bullet journal and see what they have accomplished and what still needs to be done.
I have gotten into the habit of taking a few minutes at lunch and snack to have students tell me about their work they have accomplished and what they have learned. Then I know if they have been productive in the day or need a little motivation.
When Life Gets in the Way–Migrate Tasks
Sometimes something will get in the way of finishing an assignment or task. The bullet journal journal offers a simple way to either migrate (move) tasks or cross them out.
At the end of the day, I look at any task that isn’t complete and decide what to do with it. Why it didn’t get finished is pretty important. If kids get sick, assignments took longer than expected, or something outside our control intervened, I will migrate the task to the next day. Bullet journals are supposed to be messy, it’s okay.
Every once in a while, I will look at a task and think, “What was I thinking? Why did I think this child should write a 5 stanza poem independently?” That item gets crossed off the list. Only Mommy can cross an item off the list!
Keep Track of Spontaneous Learning
As an unschooling mom, I wanted a way to keep track of all of the spontaneous learning that was happening everyday. A bullet journal has provided that record keeping.
When I sit down to make the list of things my students must do, I always leave room to write the things students choose to do. At the end of the school day, I not only mark off things students have completed, but take note of the spontaneous learning they did that day.
A Homeschool Bullet Journal Teaches Skills
I’m a homeschooling mom. I’m always thinking about what skills my students are learning and if something is worth my time and theirs. The following skills list goes from youngest to oldest.
- Exposure to print and frequently used words. Young students get an exposure to many basic print ideas: letters make sounds, that make words, words on paper have meaning…etc. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your young child will be able to recognize words on their list. My 5 year old recognized the word ,’laundry’.
- Learn the flow of the calendar. Before the bullet journal, my students did not know nor care what month it was. Let alone the day of the week. Through repeated use, my students are learning about the passing of the calendar year. No ‘days of the week’ song required.
- A reason to practice handwriting. My students abhor handwriting. Every day, they work on their calendar for the month. A little more each day. In their best handwriting. Just a little at a time. It gives purpose to an otherwise arduous task.
- The passing of time becomes concrete. This doesn’t seem like a skill, but it is. It’s so important to be able to understand how much a day is, a week, a month. It’s the precursor to the next step.
- Planning projects. As students get older, more and more of the responsibility of their education can be passed on to them. With the result that they are able to plan a project, including the steps it will take to complete it and when.
- Independence. At some point, we want our students to not need us any more. Very slowly, the use of a bullet journal will get students to that blessed state of being.
Can’t I Do All of This With a Planner? Why Do I Need a Bullet Journal?
Yes, you can do everything above with a planner. In fact, if you already have a planner, I would encourage you to use it until it’s gone. The magic of the bullet journal is in what else you can do with it that a typical planner would not allow.
You can put everything in the same notebook. Everything! All of that child’s schooling can go in the same notebook.
Not just the planning. Not just the tasks.
When I have my students do any assignment, it gets written down in their notebook. (I almost never do worksheets. If you use a lot of worksheets/workbooks this last piece of information will not seem so magical).
Flipping through my students bullet journals you will find pages that have:
- Book lists (a list of enjoyed and want to enjoy)
- Meal plans from Budgeting Lunch: A Multi-age, Hands-on, Math in Real Life, Lesson
- Word lists
- Math Assignments
- Rough drafts
- Spelling lists
- Graphs (to keep track of letter names known each month)
- Weekly reflections
- Nature sketches
- Lots and lots of artwork pages
Anything that you find you need for school can be written or glued into your student’s bullet journal.
My Favorite Part of the Bullet Journal
I sought to simplify my life and homeschool when I gave each child a bullet journal. While I have found using a bullet journal to simplify my homeschooling, I did not expect it to enrich it. I am no longer constantly trying to remember what each child needs to accomplish each day. I am no longer plagued by decision fatigue when I can’t check my master plan to see what each child is supposed to be doing.
My favorite part?
Looking through each journal months later and seeing the progress of each child. Not just academically. But everywhere. I see the growing up of that child in the turning of the pages. A snapshot of them as a person. What started as an organizational tool has become a priceless treasure.
Would you like to make your own bullet journal? Visit: Tips to Make a Student Homeschool Bullet Journal.
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