Step 7: Keep the Right Records
Does the thought of keeping track of worksheets, projects, tests, grades, lesson plans, report cards, and transcripts send chills up your spine? Do you wonder if educational records are worth the time and effort they require? You may not like the answer, but it is "yes." Recordkeeping in your homeschool is very important for the following reasons:
Keepsakes - Journaling your homeschooling activities allows you to preserve memories of special occasions and record favorite learning moments throughout the year.
Report cards - When it comes to high school diplomas for college entrance and scholarships or the unexpected need for your children to return to private and/or public school, report cards maintain a reference list of completed courses and accompanying grades to smooth the acceptance or transition experience. (Note: If you're transitioning to homeschooling from a traditional school, ask for your child's cumulative file from the school that was previously attended.)
Goal setting - Tracking your children's educational progress is easier with daily, weekly, and monthly planners that remind you of current and future goals. Plus, you'll have a better idea of where to focus your energy.
Legal records - Many states have homeschooling laws that require families to present school district officials with attendance, portfolios, grades, and/or other forms that document academic achievements and activities.
The time to start keeping detailed homeschool records is now!
Because your recordkeeping is the only available proof of your child's education, it's wise to keep detailed records from the very beginning. Don't forget to give credit for any extracurricular learning activities, including educational games, letter writing, field trips, art, discussions, educational TV programs, and DVDs, as well as everyday learning experiences like cooking, cleaning, and budgeting.
When logging lesson plans, many homeschoolers use what's affordable and convenient, like inexpensive weekly or monthly planners. (Note: A great time to log your weekly goals for each child and their subjects is Saturday morning when kids sleep in or Sunday evening before the start of the next week. Although charting a month's worth of lessons at one time seems more expedient, be prepared to erase and change your entries due to unforeseen events that arise and change your plans.)
Homeschool parents can also take advantage of today's technology and do their recordkeeping with user-friendly computer software or teach with homeschool computer-based curriculum (like Monarch and Switched-On Schoolhouse) that contains built-in calendars, automatic grading, and reporting features.
Another popular option for recordkeeping is maintaining an organized portfolio (a collection of items that showcases what your child has learned). Items to place in the portfolio might include
- A record of books read by your child
- Samples of your child's work in each subject area
- Report cards with quarterly/semester/yearly grades
- Attendance records (A wall calendar works well.)
- Health and immunization records
- Correspondence with school district officials
- Assessment tests or standardized testing
- Photo albums of field trips, artwork, projects, and family life
- Course of study (scope and sequence) for each subject taught and the curriculum resources being used to teach each subject
- Reports on extracurricular activities like field trips, volunteer work, and part-time jobs
The records you keep today can have an impact on your children's future tomorrow!
Like your homeschooling schedule, you may need to re-evaluate and simplify your recordkeeping process so it doesn't rob too much time from your day. Keep in mind that recordkeeping works best if you stay consistent with the approach to learning that your family has chosen. Most of all, remember that homeschooling is a choice, and recordkeeping is a small but very important part of that choice.
- Read The Importance of Homeschool Record Keeping from Alpha Omega Publications.
You made it through AOP's Seven Steps to Start Homeschooling!
As many parents will tell you, homeschooling can feel overwhelming when you don't know the first steps to take. The process of making a commitment, finding a support group, selecting a homeschool curriculum, learning the law, developing a schedule and recordkeeping system, and understanding your children's learning styles can take several months.
However, with the advice of others, the support from friends, and the strength of God's sustaining love, you can homeschool successfully. Alpha Omega Publications hopes the insights listed here make your journey easier and prepare you for the many wonderful blessings and joys that come from leading your family in the greatest adventure of all - homeschooling!
Let others know how to get started with homeschooling!