Any homeschool records that may be viewed by others, you may want to make a special effort to make them legible, durable, and recorded in language that will further whatever purpose they will have. This article explores keeping homeschool records.
Meeting State Requirements
It is likely that your state has both attendance and subject area requirements, and keeping homeschool records are the way to show that both have been met. The grades earned by students on class work and assessments are also important for state record keeping, because “passing” the course is important in addition to attending regular school sessions. Your state may provide you with homeschool record-keeping forms, in which case you’ll have no doubt about what needs to be done. If your state does not supply you with forms for keeping homeschool records, a standard teacher’s grade book, on sale at most office supply stores downloadable forms and special homeschooling software all provide record-keeping assistance.
Other requirements may include a yearly portfolio, quarterly progress reports, standardized tests at indicated grade levels, and – if your child has a developmental disability – perhaps other kinds or additional homeschool records as well. If a portfolio is a requirement, some items that you may wish to consider including are:
- photographs of the student at the beginning and end of the school year
- the goals and/or learning outcomes in place for the year
- a list of the textbooks, literature, and other material used to meet the stated goals
- a record of grades
- a record of class assessments
- a record of any standardized assessments
- some exceptional examples of creative writing and projects
- photographs to document things that aren’t captured well on paper
- exceptional examples of art work
- a list of books read during the year
- other particularly impressive work, such as music composition, recordings of musical or theatrical performances, etc.
- audiotapes and/or multimedia as appropriate
- any recognition of accomplishment other than grades, such as awards or other recognition
If your child keeps a journal that is not private, you may wish to file the journal with these other documents.
If you take the time and energy to plan the school year – which you may be required to do for qualifying your homeschool, based on your States homeschool laws – you’ll want to keep homeschool records to remember what your lesson plans have been, as well as to help yourself remember how your plans worked . . . or what went wrong if they didn’t work to your satisfaction. Your homeschool records can help you assess the usefulness of various approaches, pedagogies, lessons, units, and curricula with your child. Especially if you are instructing multiple children, you will not be able to keep every detail of every lesson in your head: you will need records to help you recall.
Keeping homeschool records can help you see the layout of the day as soon as school starts in the morning, and help you know what the week holds in store.
For School Applications
If at any time a homeschooled student needs to make application to a public or private school, whether a high school or a college, well-kept homeschool records are likely to form a crucial part of his or her application. If you anticipate that this will be the case, you should do some research early on in your homeschooling experience in order that you can record the types of information required at the time when things happen (i.e., not have to try to fill in gaps later). One element this may suggest beyond documenting what happens in the classroom is to document what are, for your student, extracurricular activities. In most cases, work history is important as well.
Organizing Your Records
Depending on the types of homeschool record-keeping you’re doing, you may find that 3-ring binders hold most records satisfactorily. You may also discover that a banker’s box is better suited to your purposes if you have three-dimensional keepsakes. And something of shoebox size or so may work for storing an assortment of audio and video tapes and small 3-D items.