Welcome to Build Your Library’s Homeschool Tidbits: Episode 19 – Planner Shplanner – Staying Organized with Just a Notebook and a Pen. In this weekly video series, I will delve briefly into a topic related to homeschooling and will share some of my knowledge and expertise as a long-time homeschooling mother of 4 children. Three of whom have graduated high school, and one is also a brand-new college graduate!
As we start to think about the new homeschool year, I wanted to devote some time to discussing organizational methods. There are so many beautiful homeschool planners on the market! There are physical planners you can write in, there are online planning websites, bullet journaling… the possibilities are endless and often overwhelming.
So today I want to share a not-so-secret weapon in my homeschool organization arsenal. The best part about it is you probably already have everything you need on hand! All you need is a spiral notebook. You know, the kind you can get for a dime during back-to-school sales. And a pen. That’s it. Just a notebook and a pen!
Sounds too simple? I know. Honestly, I worried that this was maybe too obvious and wouldn’t give me much to discuss for a whole Tidbits episode. But just in case you haven’t heard of this method, let me lay it out for you.
There are two ways to go about it. Weekly planning, or nightly planning. I’ll explain weekly first because that’s the easiest.
Every Sunday, I look over our school materials and consider what I want to cover that week. Then I get out my handy-dandy notebook and pen. I then make a checklist for each day of our homeschool week. I put the date on the top of the page for each day, and then I list out our assignments from our curriculum. Each child gets their own notebook. When it comes time to do school on Monday, we can just work down the list, checking off or crossing out assignments as we complete them. This whole process takes about half an hour to complete. Easy peasy.
If you do the daily method, you just have to set aside 10 minutes or so in the evening to write out your checklist for the following day. If you are new to homeschooling, this might be the better method for you. Simply because you are still figuring out your groove and it might change from day to day as you work out the kinks in your routine. After a while, you may choose to switch out to the weekly plan.
Everything goes on the checklist. Our current read-aloud, their math lessons, spelling, copywork or dictation, independent reading, science readings, and projects. Just write out that list of assignments and you are ready to go.
The biggest benefit to this method is that it can foster independence. You still have to assist a younger child with their list and work through it with them. But eventually, around the age of 10 or so, you can start having them tackle some of their to-do lists completely on their own! By high school, I’m basically just handing my teens their checklist for the day. I will periodically check in with them to see how they are doing or direct them back on task, but that is it.
Another benefit is that you can easily see what you need to accomplish in a day. It’s also easy to realize that you are over or under-planning, based on your checklist. If you are finding you can’t get through your list in a day, cut out some of those extras. And if you are breezing through your list in under an hour (and you have older kids) you might want to look at what you need to add to your day.
At the end of the school year, you have an easy way to look back on what you’ve done. This is super helpful for recordkeeping, but also just to show yourself that you are in fact getting things done. Even when it doesn’t feel like it.
It sounds almost too simple, and I’m hardly the first person to use this method. But honestly, it’s the best planning method I’ve found. And I’ve tried everything! I’ve used the fancy pre-made planners, I’ve used online planners, and I’ve done bullet journaling. Then I always come back to our simple spiral notebooks because they are easy to use, cheap, and keep our homeschool organized!
I hope you found this Tidbit helpful! Come back next week for more homeschooling inspiration!
Until then, happy reading!
Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full-year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 21 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also make incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books, and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.