I was never going to be one of those people. You know the ones, those Happy Planner people. What was that thing anyway? Three big boxes for each day? What would I ever use that for?

No lines, no nicely divided subject areas for my homeschool planner. The thing was useless as far as I was concerned.

How to use a Happy Planner to organize your homeschool Pam Barnhill Homeschool Solutions

I watched my friends joyfully set up these pretty decorated pages and thought, “I don’t have time for that. That would never help me.”

Oh’ how wrong I was!

About the time I began to be frustrated with my system for my third grader, I also began to be frustrated by the planner which had served me well for over three years.

With added students, meal plans, dance schedules, and other commitments it was simply no longer serving my needs. So, I turned to Pam and Plan Your Year for Help.

How to use a Happy Planner to organize your homeschool Pam Barnhill Homeschool Solutions

Pam made me a custom form for my homeschool planning and suggested I try the Happy Planner as a way to bind the forms I would be using. I choose a Big Happy Planner Kit.

I wanted to start my year in July, the month I begin homeschooling and this allowed me to make my own calendars. It also came with a few extra stickers and a folder.

After a few weeks of thinking and brainstorming, I became a Happy Planner believer. This was the answer to my frustrations with multiple homeschooling notebooks, forgotten appointments, shopping lists, meal planning scraps of paper, or no meal plan at all.

How I set up my happy planner for homeschool and life

Note: You will need the Happy Planner Punch. It is absolutely essential for customizing your planner for your life. 

Section 1: Schedules 

Plan Your Year Weekly Plan: This page is where I keep all of our weekly commitments such as co-op, piano, and church. It helps me to see at a glance where other appointments and field trips can go without double booking.

How to use a Happy Planner to organize your homeschool Pam Barnhill Homeschool Solutions

Plan Your Year 2017-2018 School Calendar: This one-page calendar is perfect for blocking out the weeks and days I plan to take off from school.

Other work related or homemaking schedules: I have our Morning Time Release Schedule here and plan to add a loop schedule for cleaning the house.

Section 2: School records 

Plan Your Year At a Glance 2017: Perfect as an attendance calendar. Nice big boxes for those beautiful “X”s that signify a completed school day.

How to use a Happy Planner to organize your homeschool Pam Barnhill Homeschool Solutions

Plan Your Year Long Range Planning 2017: The idea to use this as a way to plan out trips and future field trips came from the Plan Your Year FB group. I loved the idea so much I collected all booklets from the zoo, park, and art museum and added the events we might attend to the appropriate month.

Plan Your Year Vision: This page is a must-have. If it isn’t with me, I will forget what I am working towards.

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Plan Your Year Course of Study: Have one for each student. This has been so helpful to work through this year. It made making their planning books a cinch.

Plan Your Year Goals Worksheet: Have one for each student. I asked each child for input as I made their goal page. I keep them here to refer to a few times a year as we check to see how we are doing.

Other: Grade sheets and full semester lesson plans also fit in this section.

Check out the video tour of this post:

Section 3: Morning time plans

I used to have a separately bound Happy Planner for all. the. Morning. Time. Plans. It was never in the right place at the right time. So, in the spirit of, “One Book to Rule Them All,” I added our current Morning Time Plans to my Happy Planner.

How to use a Happy Planner to organize your homeschool Pam Barnhill Homeschool Solutions

Section 4: Other printable plans 

Currently, this section has the Sir Cumference Bundle from Math Geek Mama. However, I can see adding a month from Exploring Nature with Children, a NaturExplorers book or a Chalk Pastel book to this section as well.

Section 5: Memory work

If you use memory work for a co-op or you memorize passages of scripture, Shakespeare or Hymns, this is the section for that. No more separate folder. No more hunting around for your memory work because you had guests last weekend and you wanted to neaten up your living room and can’t remember where you put it.

Calendar sections

Now to tackle those three pesky boxes for each day. I have all these calendar pages. I already have a Weekly Plan page for homeschooling that I keep in the middle of the weekly spread along with a meal planning sheet. What will I use these boxes for? I don’t have that many appointments!

I decided to use these sections as a journal/planner.

How to use a Happy Planner to organize your homeschool Pam Barnhill Homeschool Solutions

Top box: When I do my Bible reading for the day, I like to copy a verse or two. I do this for the same reason I make my children do copy work. It helps me to really think about what I have read. I don’t have long, so sometimes one verse is all I do.

Bottom box: Kids are funny! Family life is precious, but I am in the middle of the whirlwind of these little years and I know I will forget. This bottom box is where I add a snippet from our day. A conversation, something funny, a joke, Peter’s first tooth, someplace we visited.

Middle box: This is a catch-all. Sometimes it is a pretty sticker that adds to my page. Yes, I got into decorating more than I ever thought I would! Appointments, to-do lists, a special memory, a quote, all of these fit here.

The margin: This is also a catch all depending on the week. It usually holds my prayer list, but other subjects include family journal overflow, weekly to-do, a packing list, and sometimes nothing at all.

How to use a Happy Planner to organize your homeschool Pam Barnhill Homeschool Solutions


This section is in the back and holds blank lined paper for random notes or ideas, book lists, and logs. You can put anything here.


Having a Happy Planner is way more fun if you decorate it. This has been such a fun project for me. My oldest daughter and I sometimes sit together and share ideas on how to decorate our pages. It is a special time for us to connect and share ideas.

Here are some resources I have used to decorate mine:

 me & my BIG ideas PPSV-13 Create 365 The Happy Planner Sticker Value Pack Planner – BIG Color Story – 459 Stickers me & my BIG ideas PPSV-17-2048 Create 365 The Happy Planner Sticker Value Pack Planner, Classic Faith me & my BIG ideas PPSV-15 Create 365 The Happy Planner Sticker Value Pack Planner, BIG Memory Planning me & my BIG ideas PPSV-06 Create 365 The Happy Planner Sticker Value Pack Planner, Mom Life, 1439 Stickers Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens, .3mm, Metal Clad Tip, 20-Pack, Assorted (334SB20BK) Wonderful Washi Japanese Decorative Paper Craft Tape – Bright Collection (Set of 20 rolls) Extra Long (32 feet!) Crayola 12ct Watercolor Colored Pencils Current Stickers

Ready to make the switch to “One Book to Rule Them All?” Go for it! Make it your own! It doesn’t have to look like mine! I would love to see some of yours.

 Plan Your Year Planning Kit me & my BIG ideas BOX-112 Create 365 The Happy Planner Box Kit 12 Month Undated, Big Flower Pop Big me & my BIG ideas Create 365 The Happy Planner Expander Rings, Gold Me & My Big Ideas MAMPUNB.1 PLN The Happy Planner me & my BIG ideas MONB-01 The Happy Planner Big Planner Edition,6 Month

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Contributor at pambarnhill.com
Jessica Lawton is a homeschool mom to five fantastically fabulous children. Her hobbies include book collecting, knitting, reading, and birdwatching. While teacher or writer were never on her list of Things to Be When I Grow Up, she curiously finds herself doing both, and enjoying it. This only strengthens her firmly held belief that God has better plans for us than we have for ourselves.