Brave Writer Educator Resources

Scatterbook: Five Ways It Can Improve Your Homeschool

Once upon a time, there was a busy homeschool mom with long locks of dark hair who thought, journaling? Ain’t nobody got time for that! There’s math, science, writing, grammar, literature, history, art, dinner, errand running and scaling Mount Maytag in search of clean clothing! I don’t have time!

So this homeschool mom kept right on keeping on, always moving but never feeling she got anywhere.

Then one day this homeschool mom joined a homeschool coaching community because she wanted support and professional development. This is where she read about a SCATTERBOOK. It quickly turned into another I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT MEANS BUT I LIKE IT moment where she’s not entirely sure what she’s doing but she’s going to do it anyway.

Homeschool mom bought herself a journal. But only this kind of journal because this homeschool mom is a bit Type A and likes to categorize notebooks with dividers and embraces the freedom of moving pages around when she wants.

AND THEN this homeschool mom went to Pinterest (where all average women go to feel inadequate in life) and made the mistake of searching journaling ideas. She never even drew little hearts over her letters as a girl, she can’t do creative lettering! Or doodling!

This wise homeschool mom decided to just go with washi taped pages, a couple of sheets scrapbook paper slipped inside the binder cover and call it HERS.

Actually, it’s mine. I’ve been keeping a scatterbook for sixteen months now.

But what is a scatterbook?

It’s defined as a mix between a scrapbook and journal. But it can be anything you want. I don’t put photos or ticket stubs in mine. Instead, it’s a mix between a planner and journal. I have weekly & month calendar sections (divider love!) to keep track of field trips and events, but the majority of my scatterbook is a journaling section

How does it make you a better educator?

When I first started scatterbooking, I admit I was a bit under the Pinterest influence of bullet points, cute doodles, and hand-drawn boxes. I tried to keep a TO DO list each day (that lasted three days) and an inspirational quote surrounded by a cute doodle box (that lasted seven). It wasn’t long before it became simply a collection of regular journal entries. Its biggest impact on me as an educator is in evaluating the information I collect day-to-day. It’s a detective-like tool I use to keep our learning moving in a positive direction.

So here are five ways I use a scatterbook to help me.

1. An intentional effort to record your day

I don’t see how scatterbooking would have made me a better educator if I didn’t commit to writing every day. And please don’t think this writing has to be pages long. Most days I fill up three-fourths of a page, and that’s writing on these mini-notebook pages. I use bullet points and often write in sentence fragments. I often include passages, quotes, and research notes on family relationships, on learning and parenting, all alongside notes about our school day. So what gets recorded in one will be personal.

When I started a scatterbook, I wasn’t sure what the point of it would be, but I made an intentional effort to keep at it daily. 

2. Noticing patterns

I was ten months in before I realized the real power behind this journaling. (I’m writing this so it won’t take you as long.) The transformative power of this practice wasn’t for the posterity of keeping a journal, though there is that. The point of transformation came when I realized it helped me detect patterns in my kids’ learning.

The tricky thing about learning patterns, though, is they take both attention to detail and time to notice them.

Isn’t that great news for homeschool moms pulled in a hundred directions? Something else that needs both our time and attention, oh goodie!

But that is how a scatterbook can be a powerful tool as a home educator. And it’s saved me time in other ways, like time spent ringing my hands over a learning problem that repeatedly crops up every few weeks.

3. Small details add up

So what kind of details do I mean? Here’s an excerpt from my book…

“‘Kid A’ is struggling w/geometry now. Having trouble visualizing the stated angles when there are a lot of bisecting rays.”

That doesn’t sound like much detail, does it? It’s not. Yet it was just enough for me to realize he was having trouble “seeing” the math problem. I noted the same issue two days later, plus the fact I googled for extra practice sheets and stumbled across a book that used color-coded angles when dealing with multiple bisecting rays on a plane. I noted to try that the next day.

BINGO. It worked. Just a couple of simple notes from two days led me to better understand what was going on and then find a potential solution.

4. Taking time to notice

I was lucky that the example above only took two days before a positive insight came through. But that’s not always the case. Patterns can take time to even notice there’s a pattern occurring. Without my notes I possibly wouldn’t recognize a pattern exists, and even if I did, I doubt I could remember any circumstances around it. So many times I’ve found it’s a small detail or two that leads to the aha solution.

As I would go back and read my notes a week or a month later, it was easier to detect patterns – those moments when things clicked or those $%&#@ moments when it all went wrong. As I read, I’d ask myself…

What went right in this moment?

What went wrong?

Or simply observe from my notes to…

Try more of this!

Definitely do not do that anymore!

5. A backup drive for the brain

Do you know how many times I’ve found a tweak that solved an issue and then a couple of weeks later we’re right back to the same problem because we fell back into the old rut? COUNTLESS TIMES. I’m embarrassed how often it happens. That’s another reason I love my scatterbook. I’ll realize, hang on, we’ve been here before! And I can flip through my notes to find what helped. I’ll reimplement the tweak again until it becomes a new habit.

More to come

I have more to say on using a scatterbook book as a detective tool but I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information at once. So stay tuned for two additions to this series.

Part 2: Look for What Works