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Bullet Journal Homeschooling: Why and How-To (With Examples!)

Bullet Journal Homeschooling: Why and How-To (With Examples!)

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.

03/11 Mon

Then I write out that day’s events and appointments. Next I write that day’s main tasks. 

  • PT 1pm
  • Groceries
  • Laundry
  • 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. 

  • Homeschool
    • 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. 

Plan Ahead

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!

Rhiannon Kutzer

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2 Comments

  • elevation August 10, 2019 at 4:36 am

    WOW just what I was searching for.

    • Rhiannon Kutzer August 10, 2019 at 11:19 am

      Glad to help!

    Leave a Reply

    Nice to meet you!

    I’m Rhiannon.

    You can call me Rhi for short (as in “rejoice”). I’m a fiercely independent homeschooling mom of five, a Navy wife of 13 years, and a creator of various things: articles, a semi-regular newsletter, quilts, furniture, and the occasional knitted scarf. This is the site where I write about our homeschool journey and news and happenings in the homeschool world. more about me.

    Rhiannon

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    • Maybe you’ve never had a loved one on a ventilator, so you don’t know. I have. You don’t know the fear in your gut as you await the next minutes and hours until the doctors bring you updates and treatment plans.
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You don’t know the darkness and silence next to the bed of your (beautiful, vulnerable) person, kept alive by a machine. The respiratory therapists making adjustments to help your loved one’s brain get enough oxygen so she can make it to tomorrow.
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You don’t know the holiness of that bedside, where Christ meets you with His peace when everything is out of your hands. That bedside, where literally all you can do is read scripture and pray.
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I am telling you, that is a bedside you do NOT want to be at.
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I have been there and I never want to go back. God and an army of prayer warriors got us through that. Our person is still vulnerable. There are people in your life who are vulnerable.
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We were at that bedside with decades of collective medical experience on our side to develop best practices and treatment plans, and learn from mistakes made on other patients.
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Our loved ones who end up fighting COVID-19 with the help of a humming ventilator will not have that benefit. This disease is just too new.
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If you’re a leader of people, your job right now is to take care of your people. Be honest. Take this seriously. (We can do that without letting fear take control.)
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If you’re an employee, protect yourself, so you can protect your family. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, eat your vegetables, exercise, get good sleep, take some vitamin C.
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Above all #STAYHOME to #flattenthecurve so that you don’t end up by that bedside with not enough resources. Stay home, so that when the vulnerable person in your life needs it, they’ll have access to the ventilators and care they need.
    • FYI, your #Navy #submarineforce is still operating...even in the Arctic. My guy is finally out from under the ice! And I finally get pictures of his #ICEX2020 adventures. Unbelievably good to talk to him, even if we don’t get be with him in person #thanksCOVID #staythefhome #beagoodcitizen #submarinerscantsocialdistance
    • Blue Wyoming skies and wind blowing in the curls. Magical.
    • PSA: Don’t let curriculum publishers and internet ads scare you into thinking you NEED to buy their products to get your kids a solid education. #askamom #momsmentoringmoms
    • #Homeschooling when you didn’t choose it:
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I would feel totally overwhelmed and underprepared if I were in your shoes. Homeschooling is hard even when you did choose it. We’ve changed a little, too. Every meal is a reading meal these days if the kids want that. (They do🤓.)
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So, please ask me all your questions. I and other HSing mamas in your community have YEARS of experience with this atypical version of education. How can we help you and your specific kids in your specific situation? We have learned a lot of things the hard way and we are happy to help make this time smoother for you.
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What I desperately hope: those of you stuck in a situation you didn’t want AT ALL, might come to see education a little differently. It can be flexible. It can happen over the course of a whole day, with snacks, outside time, screen time, and play interspersed between lessons.
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This type of education is more about LIFE and HOME than you might think. While your students may be doing the same work assigned by the school, the setting change from school to home will change almost everything else about their educational experience this semester.
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Here are my two favorite tips to get you started:
1. Use short lessons. 
2. Alternate between types of work.
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The younger the kids, the shorter the lessons. Ballpark: elementary should be 15-30min/subject max. Middle school 30-45min/subject max.
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How does this look? Have your student read for 15 min, then do something physical for 15, then do handwriting for 15. That kind of a thing. “A change is as good as a rest."
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Don’t expect elementary kids to complete the whole assignment in such a short lesson. Just expect focused attention for that time, no matter how far he gets in the work. That builds the habit of, “when we sit to do school, we focus on school.” If you have to do 5 or 10 minute lessons because that’s all he had the attention for, that’s totally normal. Build up to longer periods, but it’s not really reasonable developmentally to expect hour-long math sessions for very young students. Those lead to tears. Ask me how I know.
    • Some days are just “pull your big girl panties on and handle your business like a grownup” days. Cheers to all of you who handled your business today. #navywifelife #adulting

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