Homeschooling Notebooking

Valorie Delp
Homeschooling notebooking is a great way to improve penmanship and writing skills.

Many homeschoolers, regardless of their chosen method, find that homeschooling notebooking goes hand in hand with other studies. Notebooking is a very effective tool to help assess learning, improve writing skills, and create a memoir of your homeschooling journey.

What is Notebooking?

Homeschooling notebooking is similar to lapbooking. Instead of creating a more elaborate book like you would in lapbooking, you put all your work in a three ring binder. You can include a variety of information:

  • Timelines
  • Maps
  • Narratives
  • Essays about the topic at hand
  • Scrapbook pages from a field trip
  • Copywork
  • Drawings
  • Anything else you can think of

Notebooking is most closely associated with the Charlotte Mason method. With that said, anyone can use notebooking in their homeschool. Many parents use it as a means to keep records about what was studied over the course of the year. The notebook is only limited by your creativity.

Assessment in Your Homeschooling: Notebooking that Works!

One important aspect of notebooking is narration. Narration, which is also a Charlotte Mason term, is when a child tells you or writes in his own words, what he has learned about the topic at hand.

In the younger years, narration can take the form of your child telling you while you write down the information for him. As a child gets older, he will be able to write a response to what he has learned that includes questions he'd like to answer, as well as facts, and other information.

How do you know your child is learning? Read through the narrations from a particular period of time and you will see a distinctive and progressive improvement. The great thing about assessing your child's progress through narration is that unlike a fill in the blank type test, narration challenges the child to use those higher order thinking skills by asking him to absorb, synthesize and analyze the information.

It's also a great tool for remediation. If you see something is lacking in your child's notebook, it might be time to go back and work on some missed information.

Notebooking Tips and Ideas

There isn't a right or wrong way to do a notebook. If you're collecting information in a three ring binder, it's notebooking! To get started, decide what your notebook is for. You can create a notebook to track your history throughout the year, or you can create a notebook for each separate subject. Whatever you prefer - and most importantly whatever will help your child learn the best - is the right way to go.

Notebooking Tips

  • Keep a notebooking area similar to how you'd keep a scrapbooking area. With all the supplies handy, creativity flourishes.
  • To help a younger child with notebooking, have the pages copied in advance.
  • To create "reusable" notebooks for things like penmanship and math drills, laminate the sheets that the child will use for practice. Keep a dry erase marker in the pocket of the binder.
  • Buy pretty papers from the scrapbooking supply section of your local craft store when they are on sale. Use them to add borders around pictures, draw attention to certain facts you want to remember on a page - or just to make the overall project look prettier.
  • Collect work over a period of time and let your child decide how he wants to display it in the notebook. This could become a keepsake for your child to show off his accomplishments.
  • Colored pencil and crayons are a better choice for younger learners when you want to add color. Marker might bleed through the pages.
  • Let your child do as much of the notebooking as possible, because he will get far more out of it even if things are a little crooked.
  • Mistakes are okay. If you make your child redo a page to perfection, he is likely going to hate notebooking.

Notebooking Ideas

  • Put a bunch of scrap or blank paper in a science notebook for drawing various lab experiments.
  • A literature notebook can include drawings of the scenes from the book, character sketches, and vocabulary.
  • Create a picture dictionary in your notebook with terms and vocabulary you are studying.
  • Make a pull out timeline by making an accordion book taped together at the edges.
  • Laminate a map and put it in the beginning of a history or geography study notebook. As you read through your history, mark the laminated map with the places you're studying.
  • Keep a field trip diary that includes scrapbook pages of your trip.
  • If you're celebrating a graduation, display your child's notebook for all to see.

Resources for the Notebooking Classroom

Notebooking is a fun way to keep track of what was studied over the course of a month, year or period of time. You can always create your own notebooking pages with paper, pencil and imagination. However, if you need some resources for inspiration, try out some of these:

  • Notebooking Pages is a treasure trove of notebooking resources. You can sign up for a free newsletter that will often have links to freebies.

The Notebooking Journey

Notebooking offers many advantages. It helps solidify the content that has been learned for the child and offers numerous formal and informal writing opportunities. It can also be a fun way to record what has been learned and of course a notebook will serve as a keepsake for years to come.

Homeschooling Notebooking