Record Keeping – Part 2
Do I need to keep records?
If you homeschool in Hawaii, the homeschool law – Chapter12 Compulsory Attendance Exceptions – requires you to keep records, although you are not required to submit them to the Department of Education. Refer to the article, “Record Keeping Part 1 – Do I need to keep records for my homeschool? And if so, what type of records?” to learn what is required by the Chapter 12 Rule.
Many parents do not anticipate this task with much excitement, but hey, it doesn’t have to be difficult.
First, a few things to consider
Record keeping does take time, but if you start from the get go – rather than putting it off until you need to submit the records – the task will be less burdensome. Just ask a homeschool mom who did not keep records until her child was in high school and preparing for college – talk about a stressful situation!
Find a system that works for you. You may have to ‘experiment’ a little bit especially if your teaching method or curriculum changes. Be flexible and make adaptions as necessary to fit your needs.
Try to keep your records up to date. This might seem to be the last thing on your mind as you balance teaching, home management, and child training. The best way to insure this task is addressed is to include it in your schedule. Set aside a time – whether it is daily, weekly, or monthly – to update your records. It is definitely easier to manage small tasks regularly than to tackle a mound of papers at the end of the year!
Involve your children in the record keeping process. An upper elementary age child can keep a bibliography of books he has read. It’s possible for an older child to correct a younger sibling’s math problems or other assignments. Your child could also document the amount of time spent on a subject.
Basic record keeping methods
Lesson plan book
The traditional teacher’s lesson plan book is a basic go to. Pages are available to record attendance, number of hours, curriculum/instructional materials used, etc. Set up for weekly assignments with columns and rows, the lesson plan book has ample space to write in the lesson for the day as well as a score, grade or even a brief summary of what/how your child did. Lesson plans books also help your child know what his assignments will be for the week. Planning books are available at teacher supply stores; more colorful and child friendly lesson plan books are available online. Better yet, put together your own teacher planning book to suit your style and needs.=
Computer lesson plans
Lesson plan books do not have to be hard copy paper and pencil. Numerous computer software programs are also available. Most programs generate lesson plans, keep records, grade, and hours, and create report card and transcripts. Explore the possibilities – do an online search for “homeschool record keeping software.” To keep it simple and inexpensive, you can easily set up Excel spread sheets with the lessons and let Excel tally scores and grades.
The journal is especially attractive to those who enjoy writing a description of their child’s day. It requires more time, but journals will be a precious collection of what you taught your child and how she responded. To keep records in on place, set aside a few pages to fulfill the Chapter 12 record keeping requirements. Notebooks, composition books or loose paper in a binder serve well for journals. And what fun to spend a few hours embellishing your journal with your child.
The portfolio is usually a large 3 ring binder to keep samples of work including reports, art work, pictures, and more. Page dividers and page protectors help keep your portfolio organized and neat. A section for legal documents – notice of intent, acknowledgment by the principal, attendance records, test scores, etc. – is recommended. Portfolios provide such heartwarming memories! Of course, the challenge is deciding what to keep and what to kiss goodbye!
If you prefer the portfolio method, use technology to your advantage and consider a digital portfolio. What homeschool mom does not have her cell phone in hand? Use voice memos to record observations of your child’s progress, record videos and audio clips, take photographs, and much more. Store in the cloud and access from your computer or iPad when it’s time to write a report. At the end of the year you can organize your digital portfolio and have it printed to make a year book for your child! Sweet memories!
The above list is not exhaustive; you can combine different methods or design your own. In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all method to keep homeschool records. Quoting J.R.R. Tolkien, “It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish.” At some point, you and our child will be glad your records are in order.