Simplifying {and organizing} our Homeschool with Spiralbound Notebooks

So, this post is a direct result of being inspired by THIS POST from Sarah at Amongst Lovely Things.

I loved how she used Spiralbound Notebooks to help plan and simplify her homeschool days with six children.  The truth is, I have been a little overwhelmed over the past year.  Now that the children are older, I feel the pressure is on a bit more.  When they hit a certain age, I felt it was even more important to ensure they are ‘doing enough’.  (You know…)  Not only that, I want to make sure we are progressing and feeling positive about our days, weeks, years!

Some Moms have a tendency not to plan or schedule enough.

Some Moms are crazy and have a tendency to over schedule and plan too much.

I’m definitely one of the crazy ones who plans to a point of insanity at times.  I mean, I had 4 print- outs per week last year, not including monthly and yearly plans and schedules and I was feeling really overwhelmed.

Just at the right time, I happened upon Sarah’s post and I decided I’d give her plan using simple Spiral Notebooks a go for this ‘school year’.

Let me tell you – it has been fantastic!  I’m so grateful for this new, so much easier way of scheduling/planning our days.  I have no idea why I didn’t think of this sooner, but I’m glad I’ve got hold of it now!

Let me share how this works and why I love it…

This is incredibly simple, so there isn’t much of an explanation needed.  This system works in only a few steps:
1.  Buy basic Spiralbound Notebooks.  (We got ours for 5 cents each during a sale!)
2. Assign each child their very own Notebook.
3. Explain to your child that this Notebook will be her/his very own.  We called them Task Books, but the kids also just ask for ‘their book’ and I know what they mean.  I wrote them each a little note and explained how we would use these books together to accomplish daily responsibilities.  They all liked the idea and were on board very quickly and easily.
4. Write a list of attainable daily tasks for each day in each child’s own book.
5. Have the child checkmark or highlight the tasks as they are completed.

I typically write daily task lists the day prior or the evening prior to the day for which they are written.  (I explain why below.)

Easy-peasy, eh?

How did using simple Spiralbound Notebooks for our daily planning simplify our life?  Oh, let me count the ways…

1. First of all, no more printing weekly schedules and grids and fill-in-the-box task sheets.  (HOORAY!)  This means a lot less wasted ink, paper, time and energy.   It also means, a lot less screen time for Mom, which is a nice bonus. I can schedule with pen and paper at the kitchen table, school table, or wherever I choose!
2.  I don’t feel nearly as trapped in a set-in-stone schedule that has already been printed/created. Ah, the joy of flexibility!   I try hard to schedule only one or two days in advance.  I may have a pretty clear idea of what we’re doing for the week, but it is nice to leave some breathing room.  With this new system, I am always changing their task lists depending on what they complete the previous day and also what peaks their interest. 
3. The kids are a lot less overwhelmed.  The notebook lays out their tasks but also only lists what is expected for one day at a time.  This really helps them stay focused and not get overwhelmed by either not knowing what to expect, or seeing a long list of a whole week’s worth of work.
4. The kids are empowered to take responsibility for their work.  Because they have their own Notebooks in their own bins, they can easily access them anytime and read them on their own.  Even our youngest takes responsibility for reading his tasks and organizing his time.  The kids will often decided when to do which task.  They will then talk to me about how they plan to use their time and when they need my help, they will come and ask or I will already be there to work with them.  They are quite happy to put those checkmarks in their books as they accomplish their work!

5. You can all enjoy using good old fashioned pen/pencil and paper.   There is something really soothing and lovely about putting pen to paper.  At least, there is for me – but maybe I’m just weird?  I love writing by hand and making little designs and notes and using plain old paper to organize our days.  The children also see hand written notes from Mom instead of computer generated schedules.  These Notebooks are much more friendly, in my opinion!

To clarify a bit – we do have yearly plans as well as plans per term on a 3 term rotation.  These plans are kept in my planning binder.  So, I’m not flying by the seat of my plants in what I’m putting into the children’s Spiralbound Notebook planners.  There definitely is a loose plan, but this style of laying out our weeks offers the plan plus the flexibility that encourages that lovely atmosphere I so strive for!
Also –  I use a Spiralbound Notebook for my own planning or our Family Time/Family Learning.  This would not be in the children’s individual books but would be written in mine.  This includes Family Time- Bible readings, scripture memory, hymns, poetry, habit training/character, as well as Nature Study, Music, Art and Picture Study, additional readings, Handicrafts, etc.
This is literally just jotted down notes as I go along.  It is so freeing to work from a hand-written notebook rather than a big, cumbersome binder loaded with schedules.

The only drawback to this new system is making sure I remember to write in the children’s books the day/night before!

It’s important to make writing in the notebooks a priority so the children aren’t feeling lost the next day when their work is not written out for them.  However, I will often write out the next day as we finish up the current day’s work.  I also place the notebooks on my desk or the kitchen table so I don’t forget!

The children love this system and took to it easily and joyfully.

I believe the same freedom I feel is paralleled by the children.  In fact, during the first few weeks of using our Spiralbound Notebooks, I accidentally did forgot to write in the list for Alex’s next day of ‘school’.
He decided to schedule his own day for me – I couldn’t stop smiling.  So sweet, and so telling of how much he enjoyed this system of organizing his days.

Hand-written notes and schedules are fun because they become a child’s personal homeschool ‘diary’ of sorts.

Hope this might spark some ideas for your own homeschool organization! Much love.


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