I may not have a huge amount of experience with homeschooling just yet, but I am amazed at how much I have learnt this year! The thought of homeschooling your children can be one of the most overwhelming things that you come across in your life as a parent.
Thinking back to my schooling years, I feel like I retained nothing, but coming alongside my own children in their learning, I have discovered a renewed passion for learning.
Honestly, I now love our days. Gone are the rushed school mornings of getting dressed, hair done, eating breakfast and shuffling the kids out the door to school.
Gone are the cranky afternoons of children who are tired and don’t want to do homework while I wash uniforms and prepare dinner.
We now fill our days with fun and learning, quality time together, reading, work in our pyjamas and lots and lots of art and crafts. What’s not to love? I feel like I get a remake of my childhood! And the kids? Are so much happier! Caitlin has taken on a new lease of life and has become more confident, happy and settled. Brianna is racing ahead in her learning and is more chilled about life. And Zac? Our little two-year-old is loving the girls at home all the time!
However, with the fun and excitement of learning, there is also record keeping. There are so many ways to create a record of your children’s learning, either for your State requirements or for your own records, memories and peace of mind that your kids are learning.
Digital or online record keeping
Instagram—I know many homeschool families who use a private Instagram page for their homeschool memories and record keeping. A quick flick through the posts displays photos of the kids doing science experiments, exploring nature, learning maths with counters and blocks and socializing with other children. Notes on each photo give specifics of what the child is doing in the photo and remind you of what subject/s they were learning.
What I love about this method is the gorgeous photos you can look back on (and even print out for some great fridge memories). This is a great method for un-schoolers as you have less paperwork and therefore can visually see their learning.
Private Facebook group—some families like to create a private Facebook group for their homeschool and give access to their immediate family members. A FB group allows you to share photos, comments about their learning and even files. It is a great way to keep records of your year and an even better way to help family feel involved and like an important part of this exciting journey.
Evernote—for those of you who haven’t used Evernote, I couldn’t recommend it enough. It is such a fantastic way to organize everything you have in one place for easy reference. Using it for homeschool allows you to save photos, keep bookwork, files for planning, and even specific webpages and online information for future use.
You can get the program on your computer and then the app on your phone so you can always have information handy and easily upload files and photos wherever you are. Another thing I love about Evernote is the ease of finding everything by use of “notebooks” and tags to find whatever you are looking for.
Digital apps for on-the-go record keeping—I haven’t done a lot of record keeping using the various apps that are now available but I have heard some homeschool friends mention apps such as KeptMe and Cozi. One I have tried though, which was good, was an app called Daylio.
What I loved about this app was its ease of use. Initially, it can take a little time to set up as you set up the app by keying in the subjects that your kids are learning. It's cute and you use a little icon for each one. When you add an entry, you choose an emotion (how well the learning went), select which subject you are covering and then type up some quick notes on what they learned or completed during this time.
It has a great scrolling function that allows you to look back over your days and the time you spent on each project. It also allows you to see stats on the app of moods, subjects covered and time spent through a weekly report. It makes it great for checking back over what you have done. You can even export your entries as a PDF (premium version only) or CSV (table) format for keeping on your computer or printing out.
Paper and pen methods of record keeping
Notebook - Write a summary of each day’s work. Note down what went well and what didn’t. Stick in photos if you wish. The problem with this method is that it can be very time consuming. Instead, bring this down to weekly or even monthly. Here you can divide it into subjects and put a summary of what you have covered during this time period.
Homeschool portfolio—keep copies of the worksheets, art and written work and file it in a lever arch file sorted by term or subject. This is a great way to record keep for children who love worksheets and paperwork or even photos.
Diary—a year to a page diary is a great place to keep notes on what you have done each day and a great way to flick back and see your year. Jot a few points each day on what your child did. At the end of the week, write a simple summary of the highlight and what you want to take further.
Written plans—a paper method I have used and find effective is to create a rough term plan on what you will offer to the kids and what subjects you will cover. It may a book list for reading, several workbooks for different subjects, documentaries for science, history or geography, etc. Then it doubles as a record of what they have completed after the fact. You can add any additional notes at the end.
Term reports–I keep rough written notes on what my girls do throughout each term. At the end of the term, I write a term report similar to what you would get at a school. I don’t assign grades to my children but I will write what they learnt for each subject, which subjects or projects they really enjoyed, what they didn’t like, where I would like to see extended learning and any other things that I might like to mention. I also mention where I have seen improvement. This is a great keepsake of their year and forms a basis for future planning.
Homeschool record books or printables—There are many homeschool record books available online to keep you well organized and feeling like you are on top of everything. I haven’t used one yet but I am considering looking into them for the new year as I like to have some tangible records for my children’s learning.
The other option is using Pinterest for free downloadables. So many blogs and websites are offering them now and I think this is a great option as you can try them out and see which ones you stick to and which don’t meet your needs as well as you thought they would. Once you have printed them out put them in your homeschool binder and use them as necessary.
As you can see, there are many ways to get your homeschool feeling organized and staying on top of your record keeping while being a homeschool parent. My advice is to try different ones out until you find one that feels right for you. This may be the one you stick with, or you may change it around as you go along to keep things fresh or to meet your changing needs.
Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. We all have different personalities and preferences and no two peoples homeschools look the same.
What record keeping method do you use? What have you used in the past you liked? I’d love to hear your thoughts.