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Monday, April 24, 2017

Why Create Custom Assignment Sheets?

Over the past 10 years, I have used many different methods to record our homeschool lessons and activities. Once upon a time, a spiral notebook it an outline of my day’s plans was sufficient, but as my children got older and there were more of them, they needed (and demanded) more independence in their studies, so my planning methods have evolved over them.

Why Create Your Own Custom Assignment Pages?

I’ve gone from writing what we are doing on a whiteboard to giving each of my children a customized, printed sheet with the week’s assignments and activities.

There were many steps in between, but here’s a brief rundown of the evolution of assignment sheets in our homeschool:

  1. The Whiteboard List: each morning I would write out a list of the day’s lessons and activities on a large whiteboard in our kitchen. As we completed each thing, I would check it off or cross it off. This was a great visual for young kids, which allowed them to see what we would be doing and how much more was left to do.
  2. The Spiral Notebook: As my children got a little older and there was more of them, more of there work was being done independently or just with Mommy (and not the other kids), and I found that they needed a way to keep track for themselves what they needed to do each day. Each child of reading and writing age had his/her own spiral notebook for assignments (these are the cheapy ones that sold for 10 cents each once upon a time during back to school sales) and each night I would write the next days assignments on the next page in the notebook. Each child was able to check off his/her own work.
  3. Customized Assignment Sheets: As time wore on, my hand got really tired (I have carpal tunnel syndrome and writing can be painful at times---typing is much easier) and I got tired of writing the same things over and over and over again.  So I developed some customized, printable assignment sheets where I could type in things we do regularly and just hand write particulars like page numbers, chapter, etc. 

As time has worn on and my kids’ time horizon has gotten longer, I’ve played around with the format of the sheets. We’ve gone from having distinctive day-by-day sheets to having weekly sheets. My 3 older kids like to know what they are doing all week and sometimes assignments span several days. Using a weekly sheet gave them more freedom in managing their own time. If they want to read all the assigned readings on Monday and do all the assigned writing on Tuesday, I’m cool with that. Or, they might choose to break those assignments over multiple days.

Giving them all the assignments for the week upfront also keeps me from the temptation of adding on more stuff if they finish early and they appreciate that.

My oldest (now in 11th grade) doesn’t have assignment sheets made by me---he has log sheets. Each week, he and I meet together to talk about what he wants/needs to accomplish that week. He makes his own list (with checkboxes, believe it or not), checking things off and logging his hours into a log sheet.

Printed sheets have some other advantages: they can be put into your portfolio at the end of the year (our state’s laws require a portfolio and it’s hard to include a spiral notebook in a portfolio), they look attractive, and typed words are often easier to read than my hurriedly scribbled notes.

So, in my homeschool universe, custom assignment sheets beat all other methods hands down, but there was a time when a spiral notebook or a blank generic form would have done the trick---what works for you may be completely different and I encourage you to explore other methods.

Free Printable Assignment and Planning sheets

3plus3 color planner page1of2

3plus3 color planner page2of2

Free Planner Pages from Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

As I said, I’ve used a variety of formats for my sheets. Over the years, I’ve posted “generic” versions of most of these here for my readers to download and use themselves. Unfortunately, most printable assignment or planning sheets that you find for free or even pay for are not truly customizable.

Some will allow you to type things into fields, but suppose you don’t want some of those fields or you need an extra line here or there? As far as I know, there’s no way to create and sell a truly customizable worksheet, unless you distribute in a .doc or .xls (or open source version) format, but then you run the risk of the end user inadvertently doing something that messes up the alignment or something. Shoot, I do that sometimes myself and I created the thing (save and save often, folks).

So, while downloadable assignment sheets can be fine, it may be hard to find one that fits you perfectly, which is why I try to keep the ones I offer pretty simple in their format---it they are too specific, they won’t fit very many people’s needs. If they are too general, they probably work ok, but maybe you would like to try to make your own custom sheets? How do you do that?

Would you be interested in some tutorials on how to make your own custom assignment and planning sheets?

The beauty of making your own is that if you need to change something about it, you just change it and print out a new copy. Easy peasy. You can also color code your sheets (I do this---each kids has a color), change the size and style of the font (great for vision issues), allow for nontraditional school weeks, etc.

Fair warning: this can be addictive. Making planning sheets is sometimes more fun that planning what needs to be typed into them. Ahem.

Putting together tutorials is a lot of work, so I haven’t decided (yet) if I’m going to do this…and if I do, if it will be subscriber thing, free to anybody, or, dare I say, a paid (but inexpensive) course. Because, let’s face it, y’all, pageviews don’t pay the bills and projects like this take a lot of time away from other things and people that need my attention.

So, what do you think? Would you be interested in these tutorials? And if so, what would you like them to cover? Leave me a comment!

In the meantime, here are some great assignment and planner sheets that are ready to download, just click on the titles or images to go to the page that explains how they work:

Black & White Homeschool Planning and Assignment Pages:

Homeschool planning pages template b&w 1Homeschool planning pages template b&w 2planning page b&w 7th page close up

Rainbow Homeschool Planning and Assignment Pages:

Homeschool planning pages template rainbow 1Homeschool planning pages template rainbow 2Homeschool planning pages template rainbow 3

If you are a subscriber, you can also download editable versions on the subscriber page.

Not a subscriber, yet?

Just fill out this form, confirm your subscription, and get instant access to all my subscriber only freebies, including the Year to Sparkle Planner. You’ll also receive weekly blog update and other goodies.

And if I do make those tutorials, my subscribers will be the first to know.

Winking smile



  1. I've been working on getting my boys to work more independently I think custom assignment sheets are just what I need! I've been writing things down weekly but one I can print will be so much better!

    1. It's not hard to do it---it just takes a bit of know how. Unfortunately, I'm not getting much interest in this project. I need to decide if I'm going to go ahead with it or not. Stay posted. :)


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