By Sarah Janisse Brown
So the Homeschool Journal was just a big experiment. I didn't expect to sell over 1000 of them this month. I'm just a homeschool mom trying to give my own kids something better than what was out there. Something that would set them free to be creative while learning about all the important subjects. What a story.
About two months before our 10th baby came along I was distressed. I always have such a hard time homeschooling in the first 6 to 8 weeks after a new baby comes along. We already missed about 3 months of homeschooling this year because of morning sickness, and called it unschooling. It was fun. We actually did a lot of real life learning, the kids learned how to run the house, and we also visited 12 countries in Europe in 2014.
With the new baby coming I wanted more structure for the rest of the kids. So I came up with the Homeschool Journal idea and made a custom cover for each of my kids. I published them through Amazon for my own family and made them for sale for anyone who would stumble upon them. My kids really enjoyed the concept and it worked just as I hoped it would. We have sold hundreds of them on Amazon in the first month, the experiment worked.
The first journal was just a 6 week plan, those are the ones with a Horse or Planets on the covers. The concept was instantly popular, and I needed more than 6 weeks of freedom from homeschooling chaos. So I decided to make a 180 DayPlan to cover our whole school year, and I made a Seasonal Journal Set for my girls - Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall each with 60 Days worth of lessons and coloring pages to match the season.
I was using the Journals with my kids ages 9 to 16. Then my preschooler and 1st grader wanted Journals too. So now we have the Fun-Schooling collection.
My 16 year old son is too old for the current plan, but he still enjoys it. So guess what's next? He needs the SAT Prep Journal for Unschoolers. I personally was home-schooled as a child, and I did a lot of delight-directed learning from ages 13 to 18. When I wanted to take the SAT I found really creative ways to study for it, and it took 3 months to fill in all my learning gaps. I felt like it took me just a few months to learn all the things that everyone else took four years to learn in school. I scored higher than almost all my public school friends. I have to admit that after the test was over it only took me a couple years to unlearn everything I learned to take that test. Well, my plan is to re-create what I did to study for that test, but make learning more relevant to real life.
At our house we have hundreds of educational books, videos, and learning games - and it was all so disorganized. When I use the Homeschooling Journals with my own children they just pick books form the family library or use books on Kindle. We also order lots of books from Usborne and Answers in Genesis. If we lived near a library we would certainly get lots of free books too. For everything else we also use YouTube for tutorials, and keep track of those with the Homeschooling Journals.
Math is another story - Life of Fred has been really fun for family math time, along with CoolMathGames.com and a bunch of board games. The new 60 day journals and Fun-Schooling Journals include math practice pages! You pick the method of teaching math from Unschooling to Abeka!
A big goal I had for developing the Journals was to help eclectic learning families to create portfolios to document and showcase the learning journey of each child.
You can't test many of the amazing skills that homeschooling kids naturally excel in, but with these Journals you can document all the unique learning experiences, and even make movie watching part of the portfolio.
SPECIAL NEEDS - I also have children with dyslexia and Asperger's Syndrome, these kids do not thrive with normal "drill and test" school work. They need freedom, creativity, curiosity, personal research and discovery to be at the core of the learning experience. My Aspie kids want to study things that are not taught in school, my dyslexic kids want to draw their answers, and my child with discalculia would rather design cities than memorize math facts.
Since I have some of the same challenges (Dyslexia and Asperger's) I see the world the way they do, and have the mind to a create customized learning experience for my children, and that is why you will find over 140 books on Amazon written and published by Sarah Janisse Brown... seems like a lot, but I have ten children - that's about 14 books per child.
I am thinking of making a video series where I teach moms how to create a life-style of learning for creative kids - is anyone interested? Comment below! What would your questions be for me?
Interested in getting a homeschooling Journal for your son or daughter?
If it is just going to be a small part of your day get a Fun-Schooling Journal.
If you want a more complete curriculum, get Homeschooling Creative Girls, or Homeschooling Boys to start out. Or used our Year-Round Plan! These are 60 Day Seasonal Journals that cover more than 10 subjects.
For many of you moms out there - this will be an answer to prayer!
So you may wonder how a mom of ten has so much time to keep creating new books... well the new Homeschooling Journal concept is working really well at my house, and I am no longer down with the new baby. So I have a lot of freedom in my day to get creative too. As I watch my kids use the journals, they are often giving me new ideas, and they LOVE helping me come up with ideas and artwork for the new books!
The Journals also help my kids to be more productive when it comes to helping me around the house - The Journals help them to make to-do lists and get their priorities in order. So everything runs more smoothly when we use the journals.
NEW! A Homeschooling Guide for Mom
to go along with our Journals!
Our 1st Homeschooling Journal for Girls
6 Week Plan - For Christian Families
Our 1st Homeschooling Journal for Boys
6 Week Plan - For Christian Families
60 Day Plan for Girls - Secular
60 Day Plan for Boys - Secular
Fun-Schooling Activity Book - Secular
1st Year of Homeschooling Handbook
Preschool to 8th Grade
10/28/2015 12:13:28 pm
Thank you for this article. It is very helpful. We are currently working through dyslexia games and we love it. We did our first word hunt today and it was actually much more fun for the kids than I thought it would be. I would love a video series to help teach me how to teach my kids to teach themselves! I would also love to see pdf purchase options for your journals. I thought the yellow cover series was available as PDFs but now I can't find them. Even though your books are affordable, When you have several kids it does start to add up. My kids are close together in age and they like to work on the same workbook. Thank you for your ministry.
11/1/2015 03:18:27 pm
Thank you for sharing your work. I'm currently looking into your journals and find them so interesting. I'm hoping to glean more from your site and see samples of them in use :) I love the concept of imitating (setting the example with the Mom's Journal)...goes alongside my entire recent conviction to s.l.o.w.
11/2/2015 08:42:10 am
Can you please share the difference between the Homeschooling Handbook for Moms and the Mom's Homeschooling Handbook?
11/7/2015 10:08:05 pm
Hi! Your Journals seem to be just what we have been looking for! I have an 11 year old, 7 year old, 8 month old, and babysit a couple of children part time. Obviously, we need something that doesn't require me 100% of the time. I was thinking we could use these as our full curriculum (we do use LoF for math however). I thought we would get this one for my 11 year old son: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1517627966?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=ox_sc_act_image_2&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER
12/10/2015 06:23:34 pm
Thank you so much for creating these journals. I've been HSing for 6 years and still feel like I don't know what I'm doing, or schooling enough. I'm dyslexic and don't have a lot of confident when I'm teaching my kids and I know they pick up on it. I would love to see some videos on this style of teaching.
12/13/2015 07:55:56 pm
I'm so excited to check out these journal's but like the others here a bit overwhelmed by the choices. I'm getting started with homeschooling after Christmas. I have 6 kiddos ages 3-11. One is very advanced (5th grade), one very smart but struggles with staying on task and some basic adhd issues (4th grade) and 2 struggling readers (1st & 2nd grade). I figured I would grab the new homeschooling mom book but I'm not sure on the books for my little ones. Could you help me along?
5/15/2016 07:54:33 am
I am looking at The Four Seasons Spelling. It says its Vol. 1. When is vol. 2 coming and how far is this series going to go?
7/12/2016 05:31:48 pm
Hi Sarah, I've purchased a few of your journals for my young children and nieces/nephews. We're just getting started with them. My kids would rather not do any school at all if they could, fun or not, and so it's been slow getting into them. I really like them, however, my son (4) doesn't like to color so much and it seems like A LOT of it goes unused for him. They all seem very feminine as well and all the same theme from one Fun-schooling journal to the next. For instance most of the coloring images, the book spines to color, etc. are all the same in each journal. I wonder if you have or will consider more Fun-Schooling journals in which the coloring/tracing theme throughout the book matched the cover? Perhaps like the tree climbers and fort builders covers, or just a more boy oriented theme, like the robots, solar system, robots, etc. I don't want to take away from how great these journals are; I think they'll be wonderful once we get into them more, I just wonder if it would make them more appealing to different kids if there were some with less girly doodles and more boyish line tracing/coloring, etc. I admire your perseverance and creativity within your home school and appreciate that you've shared it with the rest of us.
1/12/2018 12:31:44 am
Thank you very much for the information you provided. The cover of these magazines must be very attractive to the children.
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