Tanya asked a fantastic question in a blog comment that I decided to answer as a blog post.
“About how much time do you devote to notebooking (especially if you’re starting out with almost 11, 9 and 6 year olds)? It can take us the better part of a school day, and that seems too long.”
The real answer to this question is the dreaded “it depends.” [Don’t you hate that answer? I do. It’s not really an answer at all when you want something specific.]
There is no concrete answer to how long notebooking should take you or how much time you should devote to it. You spend as much time as it takes. Some days it may take only 15 minutes to complete a notebooking page. Other days it may take half an hour or more to do one. Other times, notebooking may take the form of a series of pages complete with illustrations, minibooks, and maps. That could take 90 minutes.
It’s impossible to assign a time because notebooking is so flexible and children are all so different.
Also, consider your purpose for notebooking for that particular day. Are you wanting a quick narration of a daily lesson (short) or a more thorough review of an entire unit (longer)? Are you using the notebooking page for a composition assignment or a test (longer still)?
Another factor is your child’s experience with notebooking overall. If you are still guiding your children with questions and helping them to organize information, the notebooking process will move more slowly. This may well be your case, Tanya, since you say you are “starting out.” Realize in that case that you are making a valuable investment in your children’s education and future independence. Keep going!
With all that said, if notebooking is taking the better part of a school day, maybe you are doing too many pages each day. In my eBook Notebooking Success, I give suggestions for the number of notebooking pages to assign each week. Obviously, these are flexible. But they give you a general starting point for setting your expectations.
- 1st-3rd grades: 2-3 notebooking pages per week
- 4th-6th grades: 3-6 notebooking pages per week
- 7th-12th grades: 6 or more notebooking pages per week
In my own homeschool, we notebook for almost every subject, but we don’t notebook every subject every day. We may do a math page on Monday, a history page on Tuesday, and two science pages on Friday. If we made notebooking pages for every single thing we studied, my daughter would burn out very quickly and school would drag on all day long.
Readers, please feel free to answer Tanya’s question with your own advice. We can all learn from each other here.