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Why Bullet Journals Are Great for CC Students

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

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.

Using a table of contents, students can find all of the resources they've merged into their planner as they've developed them during their studies. You can always use any type of journal, but I love a Leuchtturm 1917 notebook because the pages come pre-numbered.
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Table of Contents in my Challenge II son's bullet journal.

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:

CC Challenge Planner

My son's week at a glance planner (left side of the page). The colors help him identify the day he plans to do the work. He also likes to take notes at church in his bullet journal (right side of the page).

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I drew this sample layout to inspire my Challenge A daughter. While it looks complicated, it is pretty fast to draw up. A little color really goes a long way!

teen bullet journal

My Challenge A daughter's version of my inspiration. She also borrowed her brother's idea about coloring in each item to help her schedule out her week and make sure everything was completed.

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:

CC study tips

I've been working on studying the geography with my kids! I've found map drawing to be a very fun pastime. It's a fascinating and rewarding way to doodle. I'm such a doodler!

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!

cc-bullet-journal-15

I was the scribe as my daughter dictated all of her ideas for remembering the European capitals. She'll be thankful we wrote all of this down when it comes to the end of the year and she needs to refresh her memory work!

All Challenge students could use a paradigm reference chart for their Latin declensions or conjugations:

cc-bullet-journal-6

I have a thing for Latin charts. They are my favorite thing to draw!

Challenge B students could have a place to reference their Logic study materials like the square of opposition, or their other logic materials:

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I find color really makes studying easier for me. My son and I copied these charts tons of times when he was in Challenge B. I pulled it back out to inspire another generation to make chart copying a priority.

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:

cc-bullet-journal-1

My son has really found his bullet journal to be an excellent tool for many different fields of study. This was his idea for keeping up with the characters in a Challenge II novel.

We watch CNN student news in our morning time, and my son uses his bullet journal to track current events:

CNN Student News

My son still loves to draw the world since he did it in Challenge A. He wanted a way to track world events that we heard about in CNN 10.

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
  • Exercise
  • Daily habits
  • Sunday sermon notes
  • Book lists
Bullet journal book list

I'm a sucker for a pretty bookshelf. I drew this book list to help me keep up with my son's challenge reading. His isn't this pretty, but he did include something similar in his bullet journal.

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.


21 Comments

  1. Dee Dee on November 28, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    These are amazing! The art is just lovely … would love to duplicate!

  2. Dee Dee on November 30, 2016 at 2:50 am

    Also, would you be willing to share a post about your students’ study of Logic? Any insights would be great.

    Thanks, Betsy!s

  3. Brenda on January 7, 2017 at 11:16 am

    Hi Betsy, regarding the use of bullet journals, the recommended journal that you use is not inexpensive. To be sure before I order, one journal per child per year, right? For example, a Challenge 1 student would need only one journal for the entire year. Am I correct? I love the creative potential bullet journals provide, but am a little anxious because my student is a boy and is colorblind. But he loves to draw.

    Thanks,
    Brenda

    • Betsy on January 7, 2017 at 11:21 am

      You’re correct – one journal per child per year. It’s possible that they could use the journal for a second year if they don’t use a whole lot of space each week. Another journal option that I love that is less expensive is this spiral version. I hope this helps!

    • Janelle on July 20, 2018 at 9:54 pm

      You could also buy a less expensive notebook. I use these studio C composition books and they work just fine. I just have to make my own index and number pages as I go.

      • Betsy on July 21, 2018 at 1:29 pm

        Yes! I’ve done that with my common place notebooks. Great idea!

  4. Erin on February 11, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    This looks amazing. You’re talented! Are these pictures that you drew or are they pictures of your kids’ journals?

    • Betsy on February 11, 2017 at 4:55 pm

      Thanks Erin! The pictures are a blend of our bullet journals, so I added in comments in the captions so that my kids get the credit for the ones they drew!

  5. The Boundless Homeschool on May 11, 2017 at 10:26 am

    […] scrolling through my newsfeed a homeschool mom shared a blog post from Family Style Learning about Bullet Journaling.  I didn’t really read the title, I just glanced at the pictures and saw how cool it was ( I […]

  6. Joanna on May 29, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    I’m looking for ways to combine my love of BuJo and my kiddos need to organize themselves for challenge B

  7. Jennifer on July 11, 2017 at 11:38 am

    I’d love to share this with my kids but don’t even know how to get them started!!!

  8. Valerie on May 28, 2018 at 7:39 am

    Which pens/markers do you use for bullet journaling?

  9. Carrie on February 24, 2019 at 11:40 pm

    Do you use the bullet journal for note taking or do you do that elsewhere and summarize or clean up the notes in the journal. Do you use it as a place to study from or mostly organize?
    Thanks!

    • Betsy on February 26, 2019 at 4:58 pm

      I use it for everything…notes just go on the next available page. Not every page is as beautiful as some of these! I love that everything is in one place so I don’t lose anything important!

  10. Carrie on February 28, 2019 at 10:33 am

    Thank you for responding 😁 For Challenge A might you recommend a larger one to allow for maps?

    • Betsy on February 28, 2019 at 10:42 am

      That’s a great suggestion. My youngest uses an 18×24 sketch pad for her maps…drawing them small is not her thing! However, I did have a couple of kids in my first challenge a class that loved to draw everything as small as they could. It just depends on your student!

  11. Jessi on June 16, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    I love these! I haven’t been able to find a good way to organize my head enough to teach my kiddos to organize, but I think this would work well for us. My question though is, do you have any suggestions and/or examples on how to make it work for foundations/essentials kiddos?

    • Betsy on June 19, 2019 at 7:24 pm

      I never tried it with my foundations/essentials kids for a couple of reasons: (1) I was still trying to figure it out when they were in those programs, and (2) my youngest struggled to write anything down and organize herself so she needed lots of help, therefore it wasn’t worth it. I used a spiral and kept it super simple for her like this: https://readaloudrevival.com/spiral-notebooks/

  12. Irene Mirray on August 18, 2019 at 10:07 pm

    I love the idea but unsure how to integrate this. Please clarify. Are you suggesting one book for ALL subjects? Do they DO their assignment in this book for all subjects? Just a little confused. Thanks

    • Betsy on August 19, 2019 at 10:36 am

      Bullet journals are mostly about planning, but we like to add things in that we will be studying over the course of the year to have easy to access. It won’t be the place were we do all of our work, but just a great way to keep all of the main things you need to reference in one place. The beauty of Bullet Journals is really that you make them fit your needs. No two are the same!

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