How to Take Charge of Your Homeschool Day

I’m not going to lie and tell you that everything is sunshine and roses around here every day. My seven-year-old reminds me often that he doesn’t-like-school-not-one-little-bit.

I don’t fret too much about this, because I remember the nine-year-old going through just such a stage.

In the meantime, we are putting our head down, carrying on each morning, and not doing too badly with it. And then a few weeks ago my friend Sarah called, totally psyched about this new method she was using that was making such a huge difference in her homeschool days.

She eventually wrote a post about it — you can see it all at How I’m Using Spiral Notebooks to Simplify Homeschooling.

Well you know my ears perked up at the whole “This is incredible, and it is making my life easier” gush. But Sarah was all about using this with her independent big kids, so we figured it probably wouldn’t be worth the effort to me to try it — my kids are younger after all.

Then the post came out, and I just had to give it a shot. And you know what? I discovered something about the notebook trick that totally made it awesome for me — something we had never considered before.

It’s all about decision making.

I realized as I sat and wrote out those checklists that I made about 20 different decisions in that moment. Exactly what we were going to do the next day, what each kid needed to focus on, how much to assign and more.

These were 20 decisions that were now already made and did not have to be made in the heat of the moment while we were doing school. I even made a “group list” to make decisions for everything we do as a group.

Sure, I make a plan for the year, but because I leave my plans flexible on purpose, I never realized how many decisions I left hanging until the morning of school. The physical act of making a list the night before helps me have a more peaceful day that runs just a little more on autopilot.

Less indecision. Less grumpiness trying to think while everyone talks at once.

It was pretty helpful to me, and I thought it might be to you too.




  • Susan Menzmer says:

    How do you decide about your loop schedule classes? Do you just decide the night before how much of the loop you are going to do that day? Loving how the loop concept has helped us this year! One week down, I’m not counting how many left to go! ?

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      Honestly I do it by a time block. We have an hour or an hour and a half to work and we do as many as we can in that time. Some days it is only one subject, others it may be more.

  • Anita says:

    Great site!!

  • Heather says:

    Pam do you use the clipboard for workbook pages along with spiral notebooks? I like both ideas and thought I could use both. I print a lot from online resources that would be great on a clipboard. The spiral notebooks I guess are more like that days lesson plan. Just wondered how you use both.

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      Heather — Yep. I clip all of their MUS pages, worksheets printed from online, handwriting, blank paper, AAR pages, etc to the clipboard. Then I write in the spiral notebook. Things like 1. MUS 19B/Drill 9s or 2. AAR 23 w/mom or 3. Handwriting page. Once the list is made in the spiral (actually we use a composition book without the spiral) then I clip it to the front of the clipboard.

  • Thanks for sharing! I found the first very encouraging and helpful and can’t wait to read this second one. I love the idea of once a week notebooking! My question is never knowing how much to “make them write”. My girls write enough without prompting.

  • Elizabeth Hafferty says:

    Great idea–one I plan to use this year! Thanks.

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