Different states have various requirements on record keeping. Some states are rigid and require a pretty hefty paper trail while others, like Texas, require none. Make sure you are aware of your state’s requirements but even if you have none, keeping track of your homeschooling is simply a good idea. It allows you to look back to see progress, gets you in the habit for when you need better record keeping for high school and gives you a safety net in case laws change or you have a legal issue. There are many ideas on how to track your homeschool day.
Lesson Plans – Some people are very well organized when it comes to lesson plans while others fly by the seat of their pants. Even some homeschool styles, by their very nature, eschew too much planning. But, if you choose to plan lessons by the day, week, month or year there are ample ways to think about it. You could start by considering your short or long term goals. You can then decide on the lessons you want to teach that cover those goals. You could also check state requirements and use that as a basis to plan your lessons. Some curricula have built in lesson plans that you follow as they come up but you may choose to supplement those with additional work. If you are unsure of where to start, try looking up scope and sequence for a certain subject and plan accordingly. To keep track of your lesson plans you can use one or more tools:
- A whiteboard or chalkboard lets the kids see the daily tasks and they can check them off as they are completed. This gets the kids involved and gives them a sense of accomplishment.
- A calendar shows what lessons are to be completed by day, week or month. For older kids, they can work ahead if they have free time and check off items as they compete it.
- Use a spreadsheet or word processing program to keep it digital. You can share this with family or the children. You can easily change and print them.
- There are numerous online and offline lesson planners available. You can decide how fancy you want to get and how much money you want to spend.
Progress or Grades – Tracking grades is not always necessary and some homeschool families do not even assign grades. But, if it is your preference to do so or your state requires it, there are many ways you can easily do it.
- A spreadsheet program can be used to create a file for each child with their grades per year, semester or month.
- If you are not comfortable with a spreadsheet program, use a word processing program.
- There are programs designed specifically to track grades. You can choose how much you want to invest to make your life easier.
- You can use file folders or binders to store all the graded papers or projects to refer to later. At the end of the year you can store them. Organize by child and by subject for ease.
- Take pictures of work and keep them in an online or offline photo album. This ensures they will last.
- Keep a private blog where you jot down the grades or any comments each day.
- Use a teacher grade book found in any teacher supply store.
Extracurricular activities – While it may not be useful in the early years of homeschooling, tracking extracurricular activities can be important when creating a high school transcript or to apply for jobs, college or trade school. You can keep track of sports, academic clubs, social clubs or volunteer hours.
- You can create a file folder on your computer and jot notes of hours spent and activities.
- You can keep a journal or diary.
- Take pictures and keep a photo album or scrapbook just for your extracurricular homeschool activities.
- Blog about what your child is doing using a person blog. You can search it later if needed.
Memories – One reason to keep track of your homeschool day is simply for the memories. If you have all your children’s work in one place you can always look back on it through the years and see how much progress was made and ho adorable some of their work was. You can show the grandkids what their parents accomplished and give your kids their memories when they leave the house and make homes of their own.
- Take pictures and use an online or offline photo album.
- Create a scrapbook.
- Keep work in binders you can refer back to.
- Create a website or blog to list important milestones or achievements. Don’t forget to post pictures.
Homeschool parents vary in the emphasis they put on record keeping. Some are meticulous about it while others have a hard time doing it. However, it is a good idea to at least make a minimal effort to keep track of progress and milestones in your children’s education. You can get rather elaborate – there are many products available for record keeping that specifically target the homeschool demographic. Or, you can be very simple and create your own for little to no cost.