Written by Kara S. Anderson
The first step is to not panic.
I know – the school year is starting, and your shelf is NOT READY, and that math thing you wanted to try is back-ordered and it doesn’t matter anyway because your oldest says that this year he’d prefer to just not do math at all.
Wouldn’t we all, kid.
Instagram and Pinterest are mocking you with the pictures of stylish schoolrooms (you meet at the corner of your dining room table that doesn’t slope), and the kind of judgy lady from co-op just called and told you that they really need someone to teach Ancient Greek to the pre-schoolers.
You don’t have to do much, just crafts and a puppet story time, and then learn and teach Ancient Greek.
I get it. The beginning of the school year is both wonderful and overwhelming.
There are so many possibilities and it all feels fresh and new, and mostly do-able, except for the small parts that are terrifying.
So I’d like to offer that maybe what you need is a notebook.
I know if doesn’t seem like much. In fact, you can literally buy one for 17 cents at Staples right now.
But I’m telling you, there is an amazing power to writing things down, and getting them OUT OF YOUR HEAD. Especially when you are feeling overwhelmed, which happens a little lot this time of year.
The way I do that is through bullet journaling.
If you haven’t heard about bullet journaling, it’s a living method for recording thoughts, ideas, to-dos and everything else on paper in a journal that you create – so it’s personalized to you.
That, I find, makes it perfect for busy homeschool mamas.
Because we’ve got a bunch of oars in the water. We’re each a bit like one-person Olympic rowing teams, aren’t we? We’re constantly jumping from oar to oar just trying to keep the boat from tipping over.
Because dinner is in the boat.
So why a bullet journal?
I love my bullet journal for two big reasons – the first is that I am sort of an anxious person, and writing things down means I don’t have to carry them in my brain. (Or on top of my chest as I am trying to sleep).
Second: Office suppies. I LOVE office supplies … pens and paper and paperclips shaped like cats.
Paper and pens are trusted friends to me. I have never once put paper or pen through an airport security scanner and had them stop working.
Why a bullet journal for homeschool planning?
I have tried a lot of homeschool planning methods over the years and lots of them were good methods. I really wanted them to work, but they just didn’t do it for my brain.
I found bullet journal homeschool planning accidentally, actually. I was keeping a bullet journal for all the other life stuff, and it just happened.
One of the things about the bullet journal method is that you can add whatever you need as long as you put it in your index so you can find it later.
I started with something I just called a Big Picture Homeschool Planning Page.
I just decided that all those great ideas I read about on a near-daily basis – books to read, places to go, activities to do – I would write them down.
This worked well because not only did I start generating a massive list of great things to bring to our homeschool – I didn’t have to act on them immediately. And I didn’t have to buy anything right away!
Maybe best of all? The luster of some of the expensive ideas wore off after a while, so we skipped them, which saved us money.
From there, I knew I wanted to put the best ideas into practice, so I created a Homeschool Planning Page for each month. I would just write down the things I wanted to do at the beginning of a new month.
And if we didn’t get to all of them, that was OK – I could just migrate them to the next month!
Finally, I would move those monthly ideas to a weekly planning page along with some other important stuff like classes we had going on, and what our read-aloud and audiobook would be for that week, so I could see our whole homeschool week at a glance, which is nice when you’re are trying to schedule playdates or appointments.
That sounds pretty good – How can I get started?
Well, I love this system so much, that I’ve created a pretty FREE PDF that will give you all the details you need to get started.
I would also recommend watching the bullet journal video, but don’t get nervous! Bullet journaling is a wonderful, evolving, personal way to plan.
Head to Pinterest to get ideas and check the #bulletjournal hashtag on Instagram.
But mostly, just don’t be afraid to dive in.
Start in pencil maybe. Try something for a month and if it doesn’t work, never try it again. Rip out a page if you need to!
And have fun with it. Create a journal that brings you joy – not more stress. (That means you have permission to skip the fancy lettering and Washi tape collages if they don’t feel right).
But I do suggest you start soon.
I mean, don’t panic, but I hear a new school year is almost here.
Are you a bullet journal fan? What tips would you share?
What’s Your Homeschool Mom Personality? Take Jamie’s quiz now and receive a free personality report to help you organize your homeschool based on what your personality type needs most!
I love bullet journaling. It was a game-changer for me, because although I am certainly a “paper” gal, I couldn’t find the perfect system. Enter my BUJO!
I’ve done all the homeschool planning with my bullet journal. Love it.
Carrie Willard’s latest post: Coming soon: The Temporary Tightwad
Yes! Totally. I kept going through other journals never finding the perfect fit until I could make my own!
So this is what it’s called! For months now, I’ve kept a notebook of every nagging thought I’ve had- sometimes bad, sometimes good- that enters my mind, and I write it down with the idea of blogging about it later. (It’s the only way I can truly stop thinking about something.) Right now, I’ve got about 200 of those ‘thoughts’ waiting to be written about. Sigh. It’s a start. I’ve never thought of using this idea for homeschooling, though. This is perfect because, like Carrie, I am a ‘paper’ gal. That’s just the way I work best. I’m starting this today since I’ve literally got a stockpile of .17 notebooks. Thanks for the idea!
Shelly’s latest post: Who Actually Has Time to Homeschool for 6 Hrs/Day?
Yeah Shelly! I hope it helps!
Sweet! It’s so like me to be “behind the times,” and this bullet journaling thing is certainly no exception. But this post and the guide (thanks!) make me feel like it might be something I want to try out. (Any excuse to go buy a new notebook and some cute new pens, right?) 😉
P.S. LOVE your new site…awesome job!
Aww. Thanks Amy! And yes – the supplies – I warn you, it’s dangerous! 😉
YES!! I just discovered this last year, and it was such a breakthrough for me. I wrote a blog post about it, too! If you’re curious: https://marianmartha.com/2016/03/21/organic-homeschool-scheduling-in-a-charlotte-mason-home/
Thanks for all your bujo tips!! This is really helpful!
Awesome! Checking it out now!
I have only been using a bullet journal for a few months but it is SO helpful! It seriously calms my crazy thoughts. I have struggled with the idea that my planners don’t look perfect and I don’t want to mess anything up, hence I have 50 random journals and planners that are mostly unused. Bullet journalling is the only thing I have been able to stick with this long. I use it for everything, but my homeschool planning- I definitely need to thing about that and check out the resources you posted!
sarah’s latest post: Planning my homeschool week
Yes to the calming crazy thoughts. It’s like finally there is a place to put everything, so my brain tornado can take a break! 😉
Michelle in New Zealand
Awesome post – thanks so much!
I am really excited to see this. I keep looking at all these planners that really do not fit with my personality or planning style and this ideas is really on target for me. Thank you for the great ideas.
Yeah! I hope it works well for you!
I have read about Bullet Journaling for years but all those symbols and grids just seemed too intense for me. I recently listened to Edie Wadsworth talk about bullet journaling on FB Live and it’s the first time it truly connected with me. She keeps a dated planner like I do, but also a Bullet journal ($1 composition notebook) with it simply for writing brain dumps in. Blog ideas, meal plans, books to read, packing lists, “all the good stuff”. I realized that I had been doing that for YEARS with spiral notebooks, but that the big difference was that I simply needed to add an INDEX at the beginning. That’s the game changer. So I recently took some of my old notebooks and stapled an index in the front and went back and numbered the pages. Now I can actually find all those great ideas again 🙂
Perfect! Yes! You’ve definitely got to do it your way, or it won’t work (or at least won’t last long!) The index is a total lifesaver!
FYI – The link for the PDF isn’t working. It takes you to another great article – but no PDF!
Hello. I love this idea and am very interested in learning more. I’m not seeing a ton of homeschool planning ideas using a bullet journal so i would really love to see your PDF. Unfortunately, the link takes me to a different post, not on bullet journaling. Would you be able to email me the PDF?
Hi Stephanie – Can you send me an email at email@example.com? Thanks!
Do you keep two separate journals? One for your personal life and one for homeschooling? Would you advise against joining them? I’m 99 percent on board, but a little intimidated to make that first letter stroke.
I would love to know if you have a personal journal and a separate homeschool journal. I ha w then separate, but I am not wondering if combining may work better.
I am nearly into my 4th month of Bullet journaling, and I am already planning to use a BuJo for homeschooling next school year. I love the idea of putting everything for all my kids in one book!
I have a personal bullet journal and I will have a separate journal for school, that way I can keep it with my school records.