Note Taking for Homeschoolers

Previously posted on July 5, 2015 @

It is good to encourage young children to take notes even if they are homeschooled. Note taking via notebooks or journaling is good tool that has been proven to be essential in learning. It is so easy to take this simple task for granted. How can we be prone to rush or skip note taking?

Note taking takes more time. If we do dictation, we may have to spell certain words and repeat sentences. Younger kids will need guidance in proper note taking.

Those who do not give tests or quizzes at home may scrap note taking if they think that the only benefit of note taking is for better test scores. Do we only take notes to create reviewers?

Proper note taking is a valuable life skill. Our children will surely find themselves in countless situations in the future where it would be truly beneficial if they knew how to take notes.

Taking down notes is not simply an act of hearing and writing. It is considered an intricate, step by step, complex process of decoding and encoding information. It is described as a the ability to take in information and make it one’s own by processing it, restructuring it, and then presenting it in a form so that it can be understood by others (or by oneself at a later point.)

For instance, you say , “The Philippines is an archipelago.” A child taking notes can copy this word for word from the whiteboard. Another student may abbreviate and use the word “Phils.” Someone may even attempt to draw the map of the Philippines!

Different students may have different ways of “owning” the same information. Owning it is a KEY to better learning and easier retrieval. 

Children develop in stages. So do their note-taking skills. We cannot expect a preschooler to take notes by dictation when he can barely spell commonly used words . We cannot spoon feed older students by making them copy word for word from long written texts from a white board. In fact, some experts have argued that effective note taking is a good way to prevent students from plagiarizing. They say, many students plagiarize because they do not know how to write, how to summarize, how to argue a point and how to connect ideas in a sensible way.

If you still need to be convinced regarding the value of note taking in the classroom, you may read these articles:

The web is full of guidelines on proper note taking. Check these links out.

This is a very cool note taking tutorial. You can watch this with your primary or middle school students. It’s only five minutes .

Note taking for a homeschooler has limitless possibilities. There are no rules(Just dont write on the wall!). In fact, well written notes can be spring boards for projects. Notes can be “converted” to projects!

Here are some examples of our children’s notes:)

1. Allow them to draw and illustrate their notes.

Can you feel the “note taker’s” astonishment with this lesson?
Pay attention the the details of his drawings
My daughter even found humor in the lesson. “I can’t see a thing!”
Can you feel how she was try to imagining what it was like?

2. Using Comics:

On building a strong foundation:

3. Using charts:

Did you learn something new about King Henry VIII’s 6 wives? Did you notice the details on the womens’ faces to show their age/ character?

4. Using journals

Some curricula provide note booking journals like Apologia which the children can use. Apologia provides mini books to fill up, cut outs and other creative ways to take down notes.

5. Using Art Materials- Don’t you love taking notes with colored pens?

6. Recreating your notes into projects:

Using a toilet paper roll and paper with different shades of brown to illustrate parts of a tree’s bark.

7. Posters based on your notes:

Using reproducibles from teaching aids
Summary of a quarter’s worth of lessons on Energy
Summarizing our unit study on the Praying Mantis
(We caught it as a pet for 3 weeks!)

8. Creative “Notes”

For Music, using a staff as a timeline

For children from 3 – 7 years old, I highly suggest using the Kidstarter Everyday Journal for creative note-taking for Kinder to Level 2. Give them all the space to draw, create diagrams, paste photos, put post its. You may have several of these for different purposes: free drawing and creativity time, for reflection and prayer time, for note-taking, for letter writing and pretty much to have one notebook for all the ideas shared in this post.

Here is an example of 4-year old Nadi’s notes in her Botany experiment using the Kidstarter Everyday Journal. For my ideas on how to use this notebook for your preschooler to level 2 children, check out this guide.

9. Using Venn Diagrams:

10. Brain/ Mind mapping exercise

Mapping of the story, “Henry Huggins” by Beverly Cleary
Global Warming!

So there, I hope our examples got you excited to start taking notes! Remember, the more the students “own” their notes, and the more fun they have in making them, and add to that, the more links they form with past lessons within the subject and other lessons from other subjects, the BETTER the learning experience!

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