Bullet journals are a great tool that easily replaced my agenda and all the extra notebooks I carried with me for ideas, notes, and more! It has become the insta-organizer of my days, ideas, and collections. There is a lot of information online on how to bullet journal that can give you direction but I’m here to share on how to use bullet journals with kids. In this first post, I will take you through setting up the first pages with them in a kid-friendly way. I’ll show you a picture of my adult version and then how my kids created theirs. The key is to keep it simple and fun!
The creator of the Bullet Journal system, Ryder Carroll, explains that the foundational structure of your notebook will be “the four core Collections: the Daily Log, the Monthly Log, the Future Log, and the one Collection to rule them all, the Index” (p. 85). In this post, I will walk you through how to begin setting these up while my future posts in this series, Bullet Journals for Kids, will walk you through how to set up other collections my kids have found helpful and fun to add. I will also talk about why I think these are so useful to use with them and how they can be an important part of their growth. Let’s get started below!
Step 1: Grab a new notebook of your choice. I will post a separate post on what notebooks are best but it can be done with any notebook (dotted pages are recommended but blank, lined, or even grid pages are fine). Bullet Journalist prefer pages that don’t bleed or ghost easily when certain pens or even watercolors are used. However, any notebook will do. Below you see the official Bullet Journal notebook used by many bullet journalists but at its side you will find an example of a kid-friendly dot-grid composition notebook for a fraction of the cost ($5.99 at the time of this post).
Step 2: Set up an Index for Your Pages. This step is super simple. Depending on how many pages your bullet journal notebook has, mark 2-4 pages with the Title Index. Here is where your child will keep track of the pages they create. This is your first collection. Below you’ll see one of my index pages and one my daughter created. As you can see we did a simple print and paste for her to make this step easier for her. Please note that some notebooks already come with 2-4 pages already designated and set up for the index. Both the pricier bullet journal above and the budget-friendly composition notebook have an index and numbered pages (Step 3 below).
Below are three FREE Printable Index pages to use with your kiddos if their notebooks don’t bring one. These are best for notebooks with blank or dotted pages. They are 8 1/2 X 11. If you want a smaller version you can choose your printer option that prints two per page. If you choose a lined notebook, you can see how easily an index page is created. I find the lines are super helpful (especially for the little ones)! Just click on the one your little one would like to use.
Step 3: Number the Pages. If your notebook is not set up this way already, have your child carefully number the pages. Have them make sure they are not turning more than one at a time. I suggest a pencil for kids. It’s nice to find budget-friendly options that are already numbered but if like my kids, they choose sketchbooks for theirs, they will need to number them. It takes about 5 minutes.
Step 4: Create a Future Log. This is a simple and very useful step in bullet journaling. You can simply divide a two-page spread (left and right page) into 6 sections as you see below in one of my daughter’s Future Logs. Write a month of the year in each section. In author Ryder Carroll’s words, the future log is “used to store future tasks and events that fall outside the current month.”
Your future log functions as a time machine that reveals the outline of the future your building, so you can course correct if neccessary.” Ryder Carroll
Step 5: Create Your Monthly Log for the Current Month. There are many ways in which every collection created by Ryder Carroll has evolved for Bullet Journalist based on personal preference. I would like to show you the simple version created by Ryder Carroll because it’s very kid-friendly and does not take up a lot of time. He simply numbers the page down the left showing the days in that month. You can quickly write in your events, notes, etc on its side. The monthly log simply organizes your month. More on that in a future blog post.
I can’t stress how wonderful it’s been to help my children see their month at a glance. It has truly helped them (ages 7 & 9 at the time of this blog post) to plan ahead and understand the importance of preparing your clothes the day before an outing or working on an essay contest essay weeks before. They are also able to see all the things accomplished and events attended during the month.
This is enough to get your kiddos started on their bullet journals. You may want to do this over several days. I know as parents we may have a vision of how it should look, I encourage you to let them make it their own and cheer them on in the process. If you are a Bullet Journalist, remember the happiness those blank pages brought you, full of possibilities. The process of thinking through their pages and what they need will be empowering. I hope you will travel with me during the next several weeks on this adventure of introducing kids and teens to Bullet Journaling, a great tool for growth and organization!
This week in my bullet journal I wrote the quote,
Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions.” -Barbara Hemphill
This quote perhaps refers to physical clutter but I think it can refer to clutter of the mind as well! Sometimes children, teens (as well as their adults!), have difficulty getting things done due to all the mental clutter. This tool will help them organize the noise AND the ideas, the “must do’s” AND the “don’t need to do’s”. How great to begin to get a handle on this early in life.
Next Monday, I will be sharing all about our daily/weekly spreads and how we use them. It’s a growing process and a fun one! If you are starting to Bullet Journal with your children or students, I’d love to hear about it and even see pictures of the work in progress! Comment below with your ideas, questions, and more or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Cheering your creativity on!
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For a complete guide on Bullet Journaling for Adults, check out Ryder Carroll’s new book, The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future. Click book below: