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How to Homeschool With Checklists or Bullet Journals

Tracy has been working in the field of education for many years specializing in both Waldorf and Montessori methodologies.


Homeschooling Simplified

It took me about two years to learn how to successfully homeschool. This is not to say that my first year was a complete flop, but by the third year, it was smooth sailing, and our homeschool was thriving. With the world under quarantine due to the coronavirus, I had to dust off my "homeschool mom hat" and whip out my good old homeschool system.

I am now sharing that system with you in the hopes that I can save you from the major mistake that I made when I started out.

Parents Are Not Teachers, So Don’t Try to Emulate a School Classroom

The big mistake I had been making was attempting to emulate a classroom school model too closely by using a daily schedule to regulate activities. Not only is the schedule a bad idea for one child, but trying to make it work for multiple children becomes a logistical nightmare that would leave any devoted homeschool parent stressed out, drained, and ready to throw in the towel. As a working mom of four children, finding simplicity in as many areas as possible has become a necessity for my sanity. After all, necessity is the mother of invention!

As I reflect on my earlier misguided attempts to homeschool, my biggest regret is that they ended with some animosity between my son and myself at the time. I comfort myself with the knowledge that I have to make mistakes in order to learn.

The schedule doesn’t work because parents are not truly teachers and, as parents, they still need to run a household, take care of their own needs, and perhaps work at a job. Using a schedule as a primary means to regulate the day requires too much of the parent's involvement throughout the day, and it's unrealistic.

The Checklist Method Is Foolproof

Enter "the bullet journal," which can also be called a checklist or a to-list (call it what you like). It is a list. The solution to the problem is to make lists and use those primarily. Some type of schedule can be used separately for items that repeat, like chores that all the family participates in. These checklists can be continuous lists that carry over into the next day or daily lists that you make in the morning or ahead of time.

How the Daily Checklist Works

Each morning, my kids are given a list of the tasks they need to complete during that day. They are then required to go through the list and check off completed tasks. Doesn’t this sound easy? Well, it is, and it works!

My list starts with room requirements, such as:

  • Make your bed
  • Put any laundry in the hamper

Later, the list moves onto subjects, like:

  • Complete math
  • Practice spelling
  • Have exercise time

More Examples of Items That Go on My List

  • I am grateful for: 1. _____________ 2. ______________ 3. _______________
  • How am I feeling today? (See posted feeling sheet) ____________________
  • Instrument practice: Pieces practiced today. 1. _______________ 2. ______________ 3. _____________
  • Reading 30 minutes
  • Reading time book title: ________________________
  • Reading Summary
  • All clothes put away
  • Goal(s) for today:

Different Types of Checklists

Within this method, you have different options:

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  • One sheet per day
  • Journal or notebook
  • Bullet journal with carryover
Method #1: This checklist is printed but it can also be handwritten.

Method #1: This checklist is printed but it can also be handwritten.

Method 1: One Sheet per Day

You can use just one sheet of paper a day with or without a clipboard or use a sheet of paper taped to the wall or pinned to a bulletin board. Method one is the simplest and least involved way to get the job done. You can hand write this or type it and re-use the typed version for the next day. I am currently using this method while my kids are doing online homeschooling through public school. I also use this method on weekends for chores like laundry, exercise and as a means of their earning any media time.

Supplies Needed: Paper and pencil, colored pencils or markers are optional.

Method #2: The journal method keeps all tasks in one place. Journal co-created by parent and child.

Method #2: The journal method keeps all tasks in one place. Journal co-created by parent and child.

Method 2: Journal or Notebook

This method uses some type of book with empty pages such as a journal or notebook, even a pad of paper can be used.

To use this method, you simply make your list on the pages of the book, this method is a good way to have a record of what is being done each day which you can reference from day to day, week to week and so on. I have used this method while my child was homeschooling using Oak Meadow curriculum. Each evening I would check completed work and add new items to the list.

Supplies Needed: Notebook/Journal/pad of paper and pencil/pen, colored pencils or marker are optional.

Method #3: If a task is not completed then it is carried over to the next day.

Method #3: If a task is not completed then it is carried over to the next day.

Method 3: Bullet Journal With Carryover

This method also uses a notebook, journal or pad with empty or lined pages. To use this method you make a to do list with check off circles that carry over to the next day, as is necessary.

Here is how this one works…let’s say your son didn’t complete his algebra homework on Monday’s list, then he wouldn’t check it off. On Tuesday, he would rewrite any items not completed on Monday, Monday's page gets an arrow in the check off box next to algebra. The arrow refers to items that were moved to another day. If he still didn’t finish algebra on Tuesday, then he would carry it over to Wednesday and so on. This can be repeated as many times as necessary.

I used this method when I was homeschooling my son using Oak Meadow curriculum. Each evening I would check to see what was completed and add additional assignments accordingly.

Using the bullet journal method is beneficial because certain tasks will have to be continued onto the next day or week.

Using this method doesn’t negate a schedule all together, meals and other daily activities remain the same. Certain tasks can be on a recurring schedule such as chores, but for the most part, the child can regulate and choose when they do the majority of the tasks using one of these methods. This creates a healthy level of independence for a child to be able to choose when they are best able to complete, say, math or music practice. And after all, isn’t that the beauty of homeschooling? This way a child can become more in tune with themselves and how they are best able to accomplish their tasks during the day and in a greater sense set their own goals both today and for the future.

© 2020 Tracy Lynn Conway


Tracy Lynn Conway (author) from Virginia, USA on July 23, 2020:


How ironic it is that your son wants to go to school to take it easy! It is also ironic that having free time for a child can be just as important as all the learning that happens through 'education', because underneath it all we need to find ourselves, what interests us and who we are. Thank you!



Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 21, 2020:

Well this is a real good piece. My wife is you stereotypical Asian mom. so we need a list to slow her down. The boy wants to go to school to take it easy. ;-)

Wow am I learning a whole lot.

Tracy Lynn Conway (author) from Virginia, USA on July 21, 2020:

Hi Flourish,

Yes, keeping parents organized has become even more important considering that everyone is home due the pandemic. I hope these checklists can be helpful to parents. It is so nice to see your smiley face and thank you for the comment!



FlourishAnyway from USA on July 20, 2020:

I like organization and keeping people (including myself) on task. This could be an excellent resource as Fall sets in. I know kids are going to be at home, much as we wish to force them back to brick and mortar buildings.

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