Stress to Success (Part 3): Victory over Busywork

Playing in the Park

Over the past couple of posts, we've been on a journey to discover the TRUTH about what it means to successfully educate your children.

We learned that many of us get caught in the trap of believing that the right homeschool method, curriculum, or schedule will bring us that success. That was me for the first six years of homeschooling. Instead, I was really just trading one type of busywork for another, drowning my kids in work and frustration that amounted to a pile of nothingness at the end of the year.

We spent our time pursuing busywork instead of engaging in meaningful learning activities like we now enjoy in our homeschool.

Once I gave myself permission to be my kids’ expert, I was no longer trapped by a method, a curriculum, or an ideal schedule. It was at this turning point that I took the advice of another homeschool mom.

She told me to put everything that wasn’t working for me and my kids under the bed. She encouraged me to start using 2 tools consistently with my kids. With these two tools, she said I could completely change the dynamics of how we homeschool. After six years of overwhelm, I was ready to try anything!

I found out very quickly … she was right! In fact, with these two tools, I now have the freedom to make ANY method and ANY curriculum fit my family and it takes LESS TIME to achieve engaging results. Probably the best feel-good takeaway is that my kids enjoyed it.



Thanks to narrations and notebooking, I now know exactly what my kids have learned each day and I no longer wonder if the time was well spent. The results speak for themselves.

Like so many other moms have reported to us, my kids asked if this was really school and if they could do more of it. At dinner each night, they were excited to SHOW and TELL dad what they had learned that day.

Through the use of narrations and notebooking, they were forming their own thoughts about the topics they studied and the notebook provided a beautiful record of THEIR learning. Our school days ended sooner because we removed all of the fluff (busywork) from our day. This opened up time for play, art projects, music lessons, free reading, hobbies, … all of the things we “never had time for”.

Even during a time of hardship ... we prevailed!

You know the saying, "You don’t know what you’re missing until it’s gone." Several years into our notebooking path, I learned this firsthand. Our family went through a trying and difficult season. Everything had to be simplified. So, I put notebooking on the shelf and purchased a workbook curriculum thinking it would help the kids be more independent and would make things less mom-intensive for me. I was about to discover not only how wrong I was in that decision but also what I had been missing.

About a month into swapping out notebooking for workbooks and some video courses, my kids finally said, “Mom, if we’re going to spend the time to learn X,Y, and Z, we want to actually learn something. Can we please go back to notebooking?”

They confessed they were just doing the work to get it done and that they felt this was a total waste of their time. They discovered the emptiness of busywork for themselves and they wanted MORE from their learning. They wanted to take charge of their learning and make it mean something! WOW-O-WOW.

This was the defining moment for me ... this is when we officially WON the battle over busywork and overwhelm for good.

I knew notebooking made our schooling more fun and more meaningful, but until that moment I hadn’t realized how much confidence it was developing in my children. Since that time, I have not put notebooking on the back burner.

Homeschooling with narrations and notebooking changed the dynamics of our homeschool.  It changed me.  It changed my children.

Following a method, curriculum, or schedule with near perfect execution is no longer my measure of success or failure. Instead, having confident, self-motivated, life-long learners who know they aren't limited to what some expert, worksheet, or test deems important is proof of our success.

Instead of a failing, stressed and busy homeschooler, 
I became a confident, relaxed and productive homeschooler.
Or as I like to refer to myself and those who join us on this journey:

... a ProSchooler

Learn more . . .

...he LOVED doing it!!! It made the whole experience SO MUCH more of a learning experience...

I just started homeschooling my 5-year old son for kindergarten this year. I'm new to homeschooling, and we are going through a charter school - so we are given a curriculum and assignments. But I have been frustrated with the curriculum and textbooks, and my son has been less than enthusiastic with the number of worksheets and "busy-work" and I was beginning to feel like I was killing his natural love for learning. Here I had this incredible child who is already reading on a 5th grade level, doing end-of-1st grade math, and yet he was starting to hate "school." I felt like I was failing. I started researching online for other homeschooling ideas, and came across the whole notion of notebooking, and it immediately appealed to me. It seemed so much more flexible than the curriculum we were assigned now, and it seemed like my son would be actually learning more than when he's just filling in blanks or drawing lines from pictures to words on worksheets.

My first trial was with one of the science notebooking pages. I printed the one with space for 3 pictures and then primary-lined writing area. We did a science experiment, and rather than just DO it, like we normally would have, after the experiment, I had my son draw pictures of the stages of the experiment and asked him to write a sentence about what he learned - and he LOVED doing it!!! It made the whole experience SO MUCH more of a learning experience, and even though it's been a couple weeks, he's STILL talking about it! Even though he generally dislikes writing, he truly enjoyed that experience, and I hope to have many more like it!! Thank you for opening a whole new world to us!!

Jen Clark in California

Do you wrestle with these questions?

  • What's the MEASURE of your homeschooled child's SUCCESS?
  • Will he graduate with MORE than a piece of paper that says,"I AM EDUCATED."
  • How much has he TRULY learned? How much will he REMEMBER?
  • Does he have a LOVE of learning that DRIVES him to be a LIFE-LONG, SELF-TAUGHT learner?
  • I did!  Click the video to hear our story.

    Our Homeschool Story