Homeschool Record Keeping

Homeschool Record Keeping

I’m not a naturally organized person. I tend to ‘go with the flow,’ changing and adapting as the moment arrives. I’m almost too flexible sometimes, or at least it can appear that way.

So in twenty-plus years of homeschooling, I’ve tried all sorts of record keeping systems, sometimes even in one year. In the beginning, it was  mainly so that we would have some kind of proof of actual education taking place in case we were hauled into court (that was happening in parts of our state), but later on it became more a matter of being a family record – a diary of sorts.

Things to Consider

  • Why are you keeping the records? Is is a formal matter, in case your someone reports you for educational neglect, a record of achievement for your child, or a personal log that lets you keep you general direction in mind?
  • What kind of legal requirements does your nation or state have? In some places, the only legal necessity is attendance, while in others, a full record of materials used and activities completed is advisable.
  • How likely are you to keep it up? If you’re not blessed with the Record-Keeping gene, a simpler, more easily completed method is best, along with a bit of self-discipline. If you get a sense of accomplishment from neatly filled in charts and have the time to put into them, then they might help you feel like you’re progressing. If you’re unsure, it may be best to start with a simple program, like using index cards or notebook paper, and move on from there.
  • Would this be useful in the future? Would having a record of what you did with Dear Child #1 help down the road with DC#2? It might, but, then again, what are the odds on you being able to find and use it?
  • How many kids are you teaching? Do you want a separate log for each, or would it be easier to keep them together? How many subjects do you teach more than one child together?

Attendance

The easy way to do attendance is to use a calendar – printed out from the internet, hanging on the wall, or from inside a homeschool planner, and just circle the days that you have school. Simple. Don’t forget to include half days, and remember that sports, library trips, religious activities, clubs, and even vacation can count as school. Even what’s thought of as ‘Christmas vacation’ can be school, if the kids put on a Bill Nye video, make a skyscraper out of Legos, or build a tent and have a book club in the backyard.

That leaves about four days a year of ‘no school.’

Door Folder

It is always wise to keep a copy of your correspondence with your school board (if any) and a copy of your nation or state’s laws on homeschooling in a folder by your door. That way, you can prove your legality to relatives, passing tradesmen, police officers, truancy officials, or child welfare employees.

What You Intend to Do vs. What You Do

This is what I always fought battles with myself over. My husband would say, ‘Plan your work and work your plan”, and I’d try to fit my school into that mold…but it never seemed to work well. So I’d end up sliding to the opposite extreme, that of having no plan at all, which works well when your kids are in a highly motivated phase, but not so well when all they want to do is sleep and watch silly videos on YouTube. There has to be a happy medium, and it’s an individual matter for you and your child to find it at that time.

The system I came up with is based on the idea that I have things that the kids and I have talked over and agreed to study, and a few that I’m adamant on, but sometimes life in the present demands answers now, not in three weeks when we finish our unit on the body structures of Protists. Alanna wants to know why cats get hairballs and what to do about them; Neal wants to know what happens to satellites that are hit by space debris; Ken wonders how to make a photo of his sister’s face stretch out ridiculously with Photoshop…these questions demand mini-studies now! That is a very good thing, too, because kids retain more of information they seek themselves than they do information that we plow into their heads.


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