A question often asked by new homeschoolers is: “What records should I keep?”
Here’s a short list.
Weekly Calendar and Photos
Record on a weekly or daily calendar what subjects you teach every day and what hours you taught them. You will use these later to make your childrens’ transcripts. Take photos of your kids learning along the way. They’ll love it, you’ll love it, and it proves they really do enjoy homeschooling.
Why?: This proves you’ve been teaching the required number of hours and the required subjects.
Field Trip Logs and Photos
Record the date, where you went, how long you were there, what you learned, and how this relates to your studies. Take lots of photos as mementoes.
Why?: You’ll need this to add to your number of hours for each subject and transcripts at the end of the year.
Keep a reading log for each child. List the date, the book’s title and author, and have the child write a summary of the story or subject matter. A wonderful incentive to read is to reward your child with their choice of book after they’ve read a certain number of books. Make it a treat to take them to the bookstore and buy it for them. Avid readers start reading and making their own book collections when they are young. Book collections teach children that reading is a lifelong skill and avocation rather than a chore.
Why?: This proves your children are advancing in their reading level, a necessary skill to function well in society. Plus it amazes your kids that they’ve read so much! 😉
Keep a portfolio (sample of drawings, maps, projects, presentations, etc) for each child. They’ll love the mementos they’ve acquired and it gives them a perfect sample for any home visitors or college entrance interviews.
Why?: It proves they’ve studied the material, they’ve learned the material, and they’ve been able to convey that knowledge. It’s also a great asset for college interviews.
Have your children keep notebooks for every subject they are taught. Textbooks come and go. Sometimes you learned something and can’t remember where, but if you write it down in a notebook it’s there for eternity, or at least until you throw away the notebook. Some of the best information I’ve acquired myself came from books that are no longer in print. That knowledge is priceless.
At the beginning of every series of notes on a subject, record the title and author of the book, video, piece of art, etc. that you are taking notes on. You’ll need this if you ever want to cite your source. At the end of each school year, I gather my kids’ notes into notebooks and file them away.
Why?: Over the course of their homeschooling careers, your children will learn vast amounts of information. Eventually they’ll want to remember where they learned a piece of information. Notebooks help them remember. This is why college students often keep the textbooks for their area of study/interest.
If you live in a state where homeschooling is encouraged and no records are required, still keep records. If you don’t, and your children later need them, it’s a real nightmare to start trying to record what you did 10 years ago. Transcripts are much easier to prepare when you gather the information on a yearly basis and keep monthly records.