My kids and I have been struggling to find a way to successfully plan our week of Challenge work and accomplish all of our plans. We've tried basic planners, online planners, and everything in between. I finally decided that they needed not only to figure out how to plan their schedule, but also develop a tool that they can use for the rest of their life: bullet journaling.
I've been keeping a bullet journal for the last two years, and it's been a great learning experience. As I've developed my own system for keeping up with tasks, thoughts, and notes, I've discovered that it is a great system for tracking tasks and life.
Bullet Journals are Flexible Planners
One of our greatest challenges in finding a planner that works for Challenge students is that most of them function based on an assumption of how people work and what kind of work they are doing. It doesn't help my Challenge student to have a week spread in their planner, where each day gets equal weight. They need a flexible planner that will adjust to their abnormal work week, and actually help them make a plan they can follow.
I love bullet journals because you can make them what you need them to be. One problem my son was having with his conventional schedule was that he had no system for adjusting or reassigning work that didn't get done. With a bullet journal, you can use symbols to help keep track of what has been done, what needs to be shifted, and what they need help getting done. Here are some samples:
Compile Notes All In One Place
My bullet journal is like my brain. When I'm contemplating something or trying to learn something, I love integrating the ideas into my bullet journal. This is perfect for CC students who are trying to memorize something, or need a place to compile all of their study resources. Here are some ideas:
Challenge A students who are working on memorizing geography could add a map for reference and study:
When my daughter made up a mnemonic to help her remember the countries and capitals, we wrote it down in her bullet journal to make sure we could not only remember it later, but also find it!
All Challenge students could use a paradigm reference chart for their Latin declensions or conjugations:
Challenge B students could have a place to reference their Logic study materials like the square of opposition, or their other logic materials:
Upper level Challenge students can use their bullet journals to keep track of the characters of the books they're reading or the themes that run through them:
We watch CNN student news in our morning time, and my son uses his bullet journal to track current events:
Planning Integrated With Life
No student should get the idea that the sum of their life is all about their studies. Life is about much more than getting math lessons checked off or Latin exercises completed. Bullet journals have helped me see that I need balance in my life. If I want my kids to pursue music, sports, or service, something will have to give. They can't be amazing at everything they do. Balance.
Here are some other pursuits my teens track in their bullet journals:
- Prayer lists
- Daily habits
- Sunday sermon notes
- Book lists
We'll color in the books as we read them. It's a great way to keep track of what we accomplished in a year. You could also just make an empty bookshelf and add books as you read them, including books outside of your assigned readings.
Getting Your Teen Started With a Bullet Journal
While many of our bullet journal spreads are artsy, the original bullet journal system is far from it. I encourage the creativity because my kids enjoy it. Anything you enjoy, you tend to take ownership over, and if my kids take ownership over their schedule, then we're 95% of the way there towards them taking ownership over their education.
I've compiled some fun resources to help get them started with their bullet journals. You can also search on Pinterest for inspiration. Follow my board for more bullet journal inspiration.
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.