Getting Started

The Family Learning Journal is simple to use. It has to be, or it will never work for busy homeschooling Moms, right? It will allow you to keep all of the important information you use on a regular basis in one place, organized and easy to find.

When you purchased the planner, you received a link to allow you to download the planner pages. Use the link to download and print the Refill Pack—14 Monthly Calendar pages and 23 Concept Record Sheets. You can print more Concept Record Sheets as you need them throughout the year.

Assemble the Binder:

  1. Place the Monthly Calendar Sheets behind the Table of Contents and in front of Tab 1.
  2. Place the Concept Record Sheets in the binder behind the tabs making sure to match them. If you are teaching something not included in the Table of Contents there is one tab left open for you to personalize – just write it in (You may want to use pencil in case you need to change it later.)
  3. There are four tabs for Teacher Resources such as Calendar and Schedule Information.
  4. The last five tabs are for information specific to each student; i.e. Course of Study, Grading Records, Answer Keys, etc.

For ideas on where to place learning refer to the real life examples.

Using the Family Learning Journal:

Concept Record Sheets:

Planned or unplanned, it’s still learning

As homeschoolers it is our responsibility to keep track of the concepts our students are learning. Traditional planners are set up for keeping track of what is taught on weekly basis.  In theory, this is a wonderful idea. However, in reality, one little distraction, and everything has to be shifted by a day, a week or more. Are you tired of erasing (or reprinting)?

The Family Learning Journal invites you to a new way of thinking. Instead of planning by the day or week, plan by the subject. The Concept Record Sheet – the foundation of the Family Learning Journal – is used for writing down all of your lesson plans, one day at a time, using one sheet per subject. Listing all of the plans for a subject on one sheet allows several things to happen:

  • See at a glance what you have covered, and how much remains
  • Have the flexibility to switch around the order in which you cover lessons without upsetting anything
  • If you are having fun learning and want to cover more than originally planned it is easily added by writing it in at the bottom

Remember, these sheets are for family learning. (Recording individual student progress will be discussed a bit later.) On the sheet, under participants, write in the names of your students who will be learning this particular subject. If you have more than five students, simply use a second sheet.

Use one sheet per subject, and list what you plan on teaching for each day of the school year on the Learning Sheet. Each day’s teaching is a new number. If you aren’t a planner, then you can write things down as you go, or even after the fact! You can even use a combination of planning ahead, writing down as you go and filling in details after the fact.

If you use a curriculum that has pre-made lesson plans, simply insert these behind the appropriate subject Tab. Make sure each lesson (teaching day, week, or book to be used) has a number – you may need to number them yourself. This may seem tedious at first, but trust me; it will pay off in the long run. Besides, that’s the hardest part of using this planner!

When you have taught or completed the concept, simply enter the date and place a check mark under the names of the children who participated. There is also a box for recording time spent on the concept, if you choose to use it.

You have the flexibility to teach the concepts in any order. Any additional concept can be added at any time by simply writing it on the next blank row, or on an additional sheet as the next number. No more hassles because your plans changed.

When an opportunity arises that isn’t part of the subjects you planned for the year, record it on the corresponding Concept Record Sheet. Simply go to the tab for the subject, and enter the date, and what you did on the first blank row.  Be sure to use the number column on the left. In this way you will be able to collect the wide variety of the “unplanned” learning done for the year. Even when an “unplanned” event disrupts your “planned” day, you can keep track of all it all.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10

Monthly Calendar Sheets:

Where it all comes together

The monthly calendar provides a quick and easy glance at the family learning taking place in your homeschool. The numbers across the top of the sheet are the days of the month. The highlighted columns are the weekends.

If you added a subject on the concept record sheets, write it on the blank row of the calendar. Each day, enter the number of the lesson taught from the Concept Record Sheet into the corresponding day and subject on the monthly calendar.

If you don’t complete a concept in one day, simply enter it again the next day, as was done for the Reading row in the sample calendar below. The number 2 is entered several times, because we were still reading the same book. Saturdays, I always enter the number 4 in the PE row because my daughters have horseback riding lessons.

Remember, concepts do not have to be taught sequentially. Flexibility is what makes this teacher’s planner so unique. For example, take a look at the column for the 8thday of the month. On this day, my oldest son got a migraine, and I needed to run to the store to get medicine for him. I was scheduled to teach day 7 of history, but looking ahead I could see that I had a video planned for day 13. I was able to leave my high school daughter in charge, pop the video in the player, run my errand and still have my children complete a day of history! I simply wrote 13 in that day’s column and continued with day 7 of history the next day as scheduled.  No erasing, no rewriting – only a stress free change of plans.

Have you ever been frustrated because you are on day 35 of History, and yet only day 32 of Science? If you are like me it’s hard to keep your sanity flipping back and forth between pages, trying to figure out where you are in each subject. The Family Learning Journal solves that problem! Because you write the days you have completed on your Monthly Sheet, you can always see exactly which lesson to teach next. On the flip side, if you complete more than one day of a subject, feel free to record more than one number on the chart. If your children are excited about a subject you have the flexibility to follow those rabbit trails with ease.

Some days all of your learning may be unplanned. For example, day 10 was emotionally challenging for everyone. We had our morning Bible time, and then then day fell apart. After the necessary time spent on Character Building (Tab 17), we were all too emotionally drained to focus on our planned learning. So, we baked cookies (Tab 4: Math & Tab 10: Life Skills), played a word game (Tab 3: Language Arts), the children danced to music in the family room (Tab 8: PE), and we gathered on the couch and read our favorite book together (Tab 2: Read-A-Loud). All I had to do was write what we did on the next blank line on the Concept Record Sheets and write the number on the Calendar Sheet. We didn’t do anything I had planned, but we were still learning all day long, and I had a record of it! The next day we simply went back to our regular schedule.

At the end of the month, add up the number of learning days for the month. Add that to the total from the previous month, and now you know exactly where you are for the year. This approach helps you to determine at a glance if you have to step it up or if you can take it easy in one or more subjects.

When the school year is over, simply file the Monthly Record Sheets, along with any of the Concept Record Sheets that were used. This fulfills the legal requirement to be able to recall which concepts were taught, as well as when instruction took place.

Did you ever think that record keeping could be this easy?

Calendar refills include 14 months—June of the current year to July of the following year. Updates for your Family Learning Journal can be found on our website beginning in June of every year.

Student Records

Tracking individual progress

The table of contents has five tabs for individual students. Most individual student work is easy to keep track of. The table of contents in most student books lists the concepts that will be taught. So, simply copy the table of contents pages for the independent subjects (math, language arts etc.), and insert behind the student’s tab. At the beginning of each week, place the date next to the first assignment completed. It will be easy to see the progression of lessons completed. This can be saved for a record of work completed. For reading assignments, use the a Reading Log to list: title, author and number (#) of pages for each book read.

Each student should be given a weekly check sheet or card, showing their independent school work for the week. Parents can write in the boxes and students can check it off, or older students can write in the lesson number or pages completed. Weekly progress can be viewed at a glance. Be sure to make a note (with a sticker etc.) if the pre-planned independent work was not completed due to “unplanned” learning. The family learning journal records what actually took place for that day.

Both of these are available as a free download.

May you be blessed as you count life as school and explore all of the possibilities for learning that God has in store for you and your children!