No matter your style of homeschooling, you’ll want to keep track of the things you do. From subjects the kids study to the list of books they’ve read, it’s nice to have a record of the learning year.
Many families enjoy recording all the things that happen during homeschool, and do it as a way of documenting the childhood years. But, it’s important to note that many states actually require homeschool records, too. That’s why it’s important to have a system in place for dropping papers and tracking dates in case you need them again.
There are lots of different ways for keeping homeschooling information. It can be helpful to hear how other families do it, before creating a personalized system of your own.
These are 3 easy ways for families to store important papers, and keep track of the learning that occurs each year:
Tote, Box or Bin
A popular way to keep track of important homeschool “stuff” is by dropping it in a large box, tote or bin. Keeping things stored in one place means they’re always available in the same spot every single time. While this may not seem like the most organized way to store projects and paperwork, it does guarantee that kids always have a place to leave things for mom or dad, and save things that are important to them. Plus, it makes sure that nothing important ever gets thrown away or misplaced throughout the year. Ask any parent who has spent an entire day searching for a single, very important homeschool piece of paper, and you’ll hear how valuable this really is!
Another way to store homeschooling data and work samples is in tabbed file folders. Instead of putting everything into one giant box, file folders help organize related materials together, making for much easier access later on. Depending on the family and the homeschooling style, files could be created for every child, every subject, or both. Additional files can be created for other things to save, such as web sites for school use, books completed, special projects assigned, activities done as a family, legal documents, grades or test scores, photographs of the children, flyers and pamphlets collected while on field trips, or anything else that is important enough to save. Since larger projects cannot fit into folders, taking photos of projects or storing them somewhere else may be necessary. Note: If file folders are not available, large envelopes, stacking paper trays or rolling storage carts with drawers can be used instead.
Digital technology makes it possible to store vast amounts of homeschooling data in one small space. Taking digital photos of projects and people, and scanning individual documents is a third option. While this could be time-consuming at first, developing a habit of working primarily online, and saving work electronically will eventually reduce the amount of time it takes to create digital records, ultimately eliminating the need to use paper at all. To satisfy the desire to have a hard copy (to display on the coffee table or show grandparents), some families like to create a photo collage, scrap book, or other showcase for every child, and have it professionally printed (think SnapFish or Shutterfly) as a book or spiral-bound journal at the end of each year.
No matter what kind of record-keeping system is used, the kinds of things that homeschoolers save are always the same. Typically, homeschoolers tend to hold on to things like:
- written work and practice problems
- completed workbooks and worktexts
- creative projects, like artwork, photography, music, videos and more
- state, district, legal and other important homeschool documents
- test scores, placement indications, evaluations, curriculum recommendations
- storage media containing work
- a book list, driving log, list of field trips and other lists
- pamphlets, ticket stubs, brochures and other memorabilia collected throughout the year
- transcripts, report cards, grades
- class descriptions, course syllabi, names of books/curriculum used
- journals written by kids, notes or lesson plans developed by parents
- lab reports, research papers, other specialized assignments
- records of learning accomplished in a day, week, month or year
In one of my books, I devote whole chapters to homeschool record-keeping, household organization, lesson planning and more. I cover everything I talked about in this article, plus I’ve included sample forms, charts, and schedules, too. To see that book, click here.
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To organize the entire homeschool year, you might like:
Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau is a college professor who traded in her tenure to become a homeschool mom 20+ years ago. A homeschooling pioneer and the founder of many groups and organizations, she works to advance home education, and is an outspoken supporter of education reform coast to coast. Her book, Suddenly Homeschooling: A Quick Start Guide to Legally Homeschool in Two Weeks, is industry-acclaimed as it illustrates how homeschooling can rescue children and families from the public school system, and how anyone can begin homeschooling within a limited time-frame, with no teaching background whatsoever. A writer, a homeschool leader, and a women’s life coach, Marie-Claire mentors in a variety of areas that impact health, education and lifestyle. A conference speaker, she has appeared at FPEA, H.E.R.I., Home Education Council of America, The Luminous Mind, Vintage Homeschool Moms, iHomeschool Network, and many other events. Her articles have appeared in and on Holistic Parenting, CONNECT,Homefires, Homemaking Cottage, Kiwi, Circle of Moms, and hundreds of sites and blogs nationwide. Marie-Claire can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.