Homeschool Records: Souvenirs of Your Homeschool Journey
Just like your banking records, there are certain papers that are useful for you to stash away for the future, whether for a school official, or for your children, or for you to reminisce! It is helpful to put together a portfolio each year, even if you choose a testing option to verify progress to school officials (if you are in a testing state). While various states may have specific legal requirements regarding what records to keep and how or when to submit them, here are some general guidelines from a practical perspective. (For legal information, please contact your state homeschool organization or HSLDA.)
It is wise to keep the records and samples of your child’s work in all subjects from the current year and at least one or two years back (3-5 years for records required by your state statute). These samples should be from various times of the year, to show progress in each subject—for example, a math workbook or notebook page from September, January and May and a writing sample from September and May, or a photo of a science project. If your state law requires you to teach specific subjects, you’ll want to keep some sort of documentation that those were covered; your lesson planning book or daily log could usually satisfy this need. (Later, during high school, you will want to keep these for all four years.)
Lesson Plans or Journals
A lesson planning book can include a rough journaling of the basic assignments covered each day (week-at-a-glance format) and assignments can be checked off when finished. Grades (if desired) may be added in red pencil in the appropriate block (for example, if the spelling test is Friday, put the score in red in the Friday language arts block in the planner). This gives you a record of your lesson plans for future reference, or to submit (if you are in one of the states requiring submission of plans).
In our homeschool, we used a plan book that served as a record of our attendance, lesson plans and verification that we covered any required subjects, a record of field trips and reading lists and extracurricular activities, etc. So when the year was over, all I needed to add were a few of those samples of work from various times of the year and I had a nice portfolio. In most states, this would generally be sufficient for the year and would take up little space—less than a small binder. If you don’t use a lesson plan book, you could keep these records in a notebook, a binder, on the computer, or some other sort of retrievable document.
For Your Portfolio
While there is no hard-and-fast rule, here are some items you might consider for a portfolio of the year. If your portfolio is to be reviewed by an outside evaluator, you should ask if there are other specific items s/he would like included.
- Your school calendar, with field trips, outings, sports events, etc. marked (as well as any attendance records).
- Your typical daily schedule. You might even include your teacher lesson plan book or journal.
- Lists of the materials you used this year. I like to include how much I spent and where I purchased my materials, for future reference.
- Report cards/grades, if issued, and any standardized test scores or evaluation reports.
- List of extracurricular activities and field trips.
- Photos of your child studying, playing sports, learning on field trips, socializing with others, etc. Also, photos of projects your child has completed.
- Reading lists of books completed.
- Projects and achievements.
- Samples of his best work. You might collect this weekly, then cull monthly.
- Checklist of life skills acquired.
- Audio or video tapes of your child reading, playing an instrument, reciting from memory, etc.
- Standardized test scores/evaluation of progress
For Your Permanent File
There are some general records you will probably want to keep long-term, such as:
- Birth certificate copies
- Immunization records or waivers
- Previous school records
- Test scores
- Report cards, if applicable
- Annual student evaluations
- Copies of all correspondence with school officials, including verification of compliance with state law, if applicable
- Copies of your diploma or degree
- Lists of in-service training you have completed (homeschool workshops, lists of books read, support group topical studies, etc.)
- School photos
- Awards & certificates
- Your child’s diploma & transcript
- Key to your grading/evaluation system, should your standards ever be questioned
- Course descriptions (brief descriptions of high school courses–optional)
- Your philosophy of education/goals
This article below is helpful not just for art work, but also for creating a homeschool scrapbook!
Articles and Resources
(Some of these items may be affiliate links, which means you pay nothing extra but I make a bit to help bring you more fun content!)
“Recordkeeping: Is It Worth the Trouble?” by Andrea Longbottom
Keeping Homeschool Records by Rachel Ramey
What Should I Be Teaching My Child? by Vicki Bentley
What Your Child Needs to Know When by Robin Sampson
Learning Objectives for Grades K-8: Hewitt scope & sequence checklist for various subjects per grade
“To Grade or Not to Grade” (includes links to my favorite report card resources)
Evaluations and Portfolios by Vicki Bentley
SOME PLANNER OPTIONS TO CHECK OUT:
My Homeschool Planner (with recordkeeping pages)
A few planner reviews
How Do You Know They Know What They Know? By Teresa Moon
Homeschool Planet online tool for scheduling, planning, recordkeeping, automatic reminders, and more
Mardel’s A Simple Plan—online lesson planning and recordkeeping (also available in print version)
My Home School Grades—web-based planning, tracking, and recordkeeping; also available for mobile devices.
Homeschool Panda online planning and recordkeeping tool for PC or mobile
MySchoolYear.com is an online, comprehensive, mobile-friendly homeschool planning, tracking, and reporting tool for pre-school to high school, as well as for home management. HSLDA PerX provider.
Percipion HELPER system (PC or Mac)
Planbook—Online lesson planner; basic and premium versions available
“Plan to Learn”—Home School Heartbeat series on lesson planning (Home School Heartbeat also had some episodes on grading.)
Homeschool Tracker (also Mac compatible)
Well Planned Gal has a variety of planners, including online versions
A few report card templates:
Nothing in this e-newsletter should be considered legal advice.
Adapted from the May 2013 HSLDA newsletter at www.hslda.org (by the same author)