In my last post, Seven Tips to Prevent Homeschool Mom Burnout, I discussed using a bullet journal to plan our homeschool year. Today I’d like to expand on how we keep a homeschool bullet journal for my two high school teens. You can also use this method for dual enrollment, college, or students who attend classes outside of the home.
We keep homeschool bullet journals for each of our high schoolers to keep them on track, allow us to see grades and work progress at a glance, and to provide a record for college admissions. Here is how we bullet journal for homeschooling, step by step, including directions and pictures.We keep homeschool bullet journals for each of our high schoolers to keep them on track, allow us to see grades and work progress at a glance, and to provide a record for college admissions. Click To Tweet
We have chosen to document everything we do for school to help make the college admissions process easier. This also makes it easier for the student to see and track their work, helping to prevent lower grades. They can see problem spots quickly.
Our 11th grader starts dual enrollment this year. I will likely be doing little to no teaching with her. This gives her a critical opportunity to track her grades and keep up with her assignments. This is the final step in learning how to navigate the world of college and being fully responsible for all of her school work before entering a university.
For my other child, who starts 9th grade this year, this allows him an opportunity to successfully manage the increased workload of high school and to track his progress. He is seriously considering engineering, so good grades are a priority for him.
I recommend choosing a larger journal if you want to homeschool bullet journal with your kids. Being able to see all of the class grades and information on a single, two-page spread is far easier in this size journal.
We personally use this bullet journal by Minimalism Art. It is about the same size as an 8 1/2 x 11″ piece of paper and has enough pages that one book will hold all four years of high school. This size is referred to as “A4.” Since the book doesn’t leave home, I am comfortable with this size.
If you wish to go with a smaller journal, such as an “A5″ which is about 8″x5”, Minimalism Art offers one here. This is a good option for a student who needs to take their bullet journal with them to classes. If your child depends heavily on co-op classes, goes to public school or is doing dual enrollment, you might want to consider this size.
Either way, I prefer the Minimalism Art brand because they offer pages that are thick enough to avoid bleed-through and ghosting. The binding is sturdy and the book is durable enough to hold up through usage for four years.
You will want an acid-free pen and possibly some highlighters and washi tape for marking pages.
For pens, I prefer these Sharpies. If you like to use colored pens, these are very popular for a no-bleed option. We use colored pens for note-taking for classes and in our homeschool bullet journals.
For highlighters, I use mildliners, as they highlight but aren’t bright. They aren’t hard on your eyes and they don’t make it difficult to read the highlighted text.
For washi tape, there are many sources and thousands of options. I recommend picking a pack of solid color rolls to start. I prefer washi tapes that are 15mm wide. You can use it to mark important pages, wrapping it around the outside edge of the page.
Use them on the edges of the pages to mark your grading pages and the start of each month. That will help keep you on track.
This is my bullet journal. I use it to track our houshold, my business, our health and much more. I have the sides of the pages marked with washi tape. The yearly pages are in black and two of the household management pages that I use frequently are marked in red. I mark the beginning of each month in a short piece of a different pattern or color to act as index tabs for quick reference.
But to get started, the only thing you really need is the journal and a pen. Start with the basics, and as you begin to enjoy bullet journaling, then add the accessories.
It helps to set your homeschool bullet journal up in a format that goes from year to week. That way the items they need to reference regularly are in the front and this week’s items are last in the book.
We break our homeschool bullet journals down into three categories- for the year, semester and week.
Homeschool Bullet Journaling for the Year
We begin the homeschool bullet journal by making pages for everything that will cover the year. That includes the index, a school year calendar, and a master reading log for the school year.
I allow 4-6 pages for the index. I list the page numbers on the left and the content of those pages on the right. We allowed six pages in this journal as I don’t anticipate having many two-page spreads outside of a small handful.
We list the relevant dates in the index, so it is easy to find a particular weekly log.
Next, we do a yearly calendar. We span this over 4 pages, with three months per page. The top section lists personal and family dates, such as birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and vacations. The bottom section is to list school due dates as they are assigned. I assign due dates at the beginning of each project, as we arrive at them in the curriculum. I assign literature due dates monthly.
You could do this spread in two pages if you left off the extra space for school due dates.
I used a sticky note to cover our personal information here.
Master Reading Log
Next, I have a reading log for the year. This lists all books read that year, including pleasure reading, if they write an essay or book report, and the date it is completed. We require 12 books for Literature and 5-6 books for History so the rest of the lines are for pleasure reading.
Bullet Journaling for the Semester
Next, I include semester or year pages for the grades for individual classes. Since this is the homeschool bullet journal for a 9th grader, he has year-long classes this year for everything but math. And all but one of his classes are being done at home.
Here, I am able to fit one class per page. I list all graded assignments by number or short title in categories. Then I give a space to list the grade and the date completed. I also include what percentage of his final grade this category will be. I then give myself room to write out the computation of the final grade.
You can quickly see why I prefer the larger bullet journals for this activity. When tracking grades for the year, it would take many pages for subjects such as English and Math.
Here is a two-page spread for our Pre-Algebra class this year. This will be a one-semester class as he is doubling up and doing a year-long class in one semester. We will move on to Algebra in January so that he is caught up with his peers by the beginning of 10th grade. That will receive its own two-page spread once we start the class.
Again, I leave some room left to calculate the final gade.
English is our subject this year with the most number of assignments, by far. In addition to the daily assignments, we also have essays, book reports, projects, unit exams, a midterm and a final exam.
If my child had a teacher for this class, such as at a co-op, I would also list that teacher’s contact information and office hours, if available. And I would use the date completed column to list the due dates for assignments instead.
Homeschool Bullet Journaling for the Month
Monthly Reading Log
I also log the completion of daily reading assignments in Literature and History.
If he is reading literature for two subjects, five days a week, that gives twenty-five school days, so this log will last a month.
Bullet Journaling for the Week
Finally, we fit all assignments for that week onto a single page spread where he can mark things off as he does them, and easily see how much work he has left for the week.
Again, I used a sticky note to cover personal information. I took the number of total assignments and divided it by the number of weeks we want to work on that particular subject this year to arrive at an approximate number of assignments per week to start. As we go, I will adjust those weekly numbers to accommodate tests, projects, and reading assignments. Our goal is to finish everything except Literature and Algebra I by the end of April since we start on July 1st.
If your child works ahead, you can add more at the bottom of the list. If they’re struggling to complete their work to stay on schedule, you can quickly see in one week’s time. You can also see if they need more work or more challenging work if they complete their work in too little time.
If your child likes color coding things, you can easily do that here. I’m using Mildliners.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The biggest advantage of this method is that you and your teen can see, at a glance, where they are and what they have remaining to do at any time. For a visual child, this is a huge help. And it is harder to lose a book than it is a single sheet of paper.
I prefer to avoid electronic methods for daily tracking because I found that it was a temptation to my kids to get off track or distract themselves with constant checking. They’d get onto the computer to look at where they were supposed to be, and I would very quickly find them off track. I find paper methods to be far less of a distraction.
Long term, the homeschool bullet journal also has advantages for college admissions. You can show college admissions counselors this homeschool bullet journal if they request proof of work and earned grades. It is more concise and looks more put together than a binder full of spreadsheets and work lumped together.
It also shows that your child is taking ownership of his education. He will be responsible for filling it in as we go, and I will be the one to double-check it.
You can quickly see, especially if your child is taking an outside course, if the grades are not where you want them to be, and begin an early course correction to pull that grade back up.
The Only Disadvantage
The disadvantage I see with this method is that you have to keep up with it. I recommend you update it during your weekly planning session to get the most bang for your buck. You can update it monthly, but it will take you longer to see patterns and problem spots for your children.
Every Sunday I sit down and plan out the school work for that week in the bullet journal and quickly flip through to make sure all grades for that week were recorded. At the same time, I make any shopping lists needed for upcoming assignments and order whatever I need online for the classes. I also handle family business at that time, such as paying bills and making the weekly menu and shopping lists.
I’ll post more soon about my Sunday planning sessions, what I do and how I do it.
Have you tried bullet journaling to track your homeschooling? What spreads do you find helpful? Comment below to share your wisdom!
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