This post covers why I do what I do in terms of tracking our homeschool in my bullet journal. Don’t forget to check out my original post on Going Analog.
The Bujo is Different
First, it’s important to note that the Bullet Journal is briefer than normal journals. It uses bullet points, not big, full paragraphs. If you stick to this philosophy, your bullet journal will save you time. If you illustrate your bullet journal, you’re likely to spend a lot more time on it than I do. Mine is pretty minimalist except for the occasional copied quotation.
***As you read through this page, you may notice the actual digital bullets aren’t what I use in my physical bullet journal. This is the key I really use:
How to Start
I start by writing the date and abbreviating the day of the week at the top.
Then I write out that day’s events and appointments. Next I write that day’s main tasks.
- PT 1pm
- Balance checkbook
- Apr. budget
I try to give myself only about 5 main tasks/events/appointments for the day before the homeschooling stuff. This is not a brain dump. This is a plan of action for the day. I know from experience that I can only usually get through a few important tasks in addition to a full homeschooling day.
LAST is when I write a bullet point for homeschooling, then nested homeschool tasks under that.
- Parables from Nature: Active & Passive
- Story of the Greeks ch. 70-77
- Sea Around Us finish ch. 9
- Handicrafts: knitting
- Island Story ch. 43-44
- And so on…
I like to write my tasks, events, and appointments first. That leaves the rest of a blank page for homeschooling and limits my focus. We may have a huge homeschooling day, we may not, but doing it this way allows for freedom to go with the flow.
You can do your homeschooling tasks either way: plan ahead or plan from behind.
This is when you write what you plan to do before you do it. It’s hopeful. But recognize, you will likely not finish everything. If leaving a task undone at the end of the day makes you break out in hives, I suggest the “Planning from Behind” method. I typically plan ahead is when I notice a number of subjects or books falling through the cracks. If I want to make sure to get to that subject or that book that day, I’ll list it as a task before we start our homeschool day.
Plan From Behind
This is when you write what you’ve accomplished after you’ve accomplished it. This is what I typically do, with a twist. Since I have a lot of balls in the air (two full-time homeschoolers, one part-time kindergartener, a preschooler and a toddler as of this writing) I like to write down what we’re working on in the moment, not always after we’ve completed it.
The student and I agree on a task for the next 15-30 minutes, and I write it down before it’s completed. That way, when I’m pulled another direction I can always come back to my bullet journal and remember what my student was supposed to be working on. This helps with my “mom brain,” and if we all get off-task, it helps me not forget about readings the kids have done and still need to narrate. It’s kind of a running snapshot of what we’re working on at any given moment of our homeschool day.
Daily Log Examples
Here’s a typical day, with events and tasks listed before homeschool tasks. I’ve experimented with how I want to track the same subject for multiple students. This example shows math and writing in a vertical format, but I’ve also put bullets for each student on the same line to save space. Vertical is certainly easier to reference later.
You could even use your bullet journal to capture quotations, or nest Morning Time as a separate section under your homeschooling tasks. We don’t do Morning Time every schoolday, so this makes sense for us. It’s also an easy way to record what you all covered together as a family.
This next spread shows more planning ahead, thus the readings are nicely nested under subject headings.
The Full Term Spread (Front Page)
I use take Ambleside Online’s PDF schedules and alter them, substituting some books, sometimes noting how long I’d like each subject to last or how often I’d like to touch on a subject every week. I then simply print the pages and tape them in my bujo with a different tape for each kid, and a tab along the side to find the pages quickly.
This is the big picture spread for our AO Year 6 kiddo. I have a copy, and our kiddo has a copy. I only write a line through an assignment when the student has BOTH read and narrated it.
The Full Term Spread (Back Page)
For the second page of the term’s assignments, I altered the Ambleside Online checklists to add circles. These track the number of times per week I’d like us to work on a given assignment. Blank boxes mean I’m good with once a week. This layout is a flexible way to track what we’ve done, and see the big picture all at once.
You could also put 5 circles in each box, one for each day of the week, and then skip tracking most school things in a daily log entirely. I’ve thought about doing this, but haven’t yet because I like a little more detail in my daily log.
This next photo is our Year 0 kiddo, so we’re not really doing school yet. I do want to start getting her used to spending some time on school, mostly to Year 1 a smaller transition for her next Fall. I’m really fine with not actually accomplishing much here, but it’s gratifying to see what we’ve accomplished.
Dealing with Mistakes
You can see I started the term using checkmarks and then switched to filling in circles on the Term pages. Don’t be afraid to change it up.
Your bullet journal DOES NOT have to be perfect. It has to be useful.
For a long time I resisted using white out because I wanted neatness, but I found that was getting in the way of simply getting stuff done. Don’t be afraid to use white out!
Remember, the point of the Bujo is to increase productivity and focus. One of its greatest strengths as an organizational system is that it’s flexible. Use that flexibility to try out new things. If you don’t like it, turn the page and try something different!