Over the last 10 years of homeschooling, I have tried a variety of methods to keep the appropriate records. Even though Missouri does not have stringent requirements for documenting our homeschool journey, I wanted to be sure I held myself to a higher standard. And, when it came time to create my first transcript for my son, the records became very helpful and worthwhile. I am a paper and pencil type of girl. I have tried to use computer programs for record-keeping and they felt more cumbersome than necessary to me. One year I tried to use Evernote. I linked to both of the kids’ accounts, but they were not diligent enough about checking off what they had accomplished. For my own personal tastes, I decided to go back to a paper trail. Both of my kids need a clear list of what to accomplish. They enjoy checking things off and feeling a sense of accomplishment as they see the tasks dwindling for the day. They can also manage what needs to be moved over to another day when the items are left on the day’s task list. Other options have included day planners, but I found that they weren’t tailored enough to our specific studies or were just too expensive. Since we participate in a Classical Conversations program on Wednesdays, our week really starts fresh on Thursdays and ends when they go back to class the next Wednesday. So, their assignment sheets were set up that way to keep them straight on the correct days and how to divide the work. Here is a copy of the Challenge grid that we use to write weekly assignments. I can tweak it each year in Word as our subjects change. They just highlight the items as they complete them, and we hole punch them and keep them in a binder.
For attendance, I designed my own school calendar from calendarlabs.com. I customized our school name and changed some of the color coded boxes at the bottom to suit our situation. I just “x” out all of our school days. This helps me keep track of how many days we have worked or still need to complete to fulfill the 1,000 hours.
This quarterly and yearly report is handy for making sure we are spreading our work out evenly through the year and getting enough hours in core and non-core hours. It forces me not to procrastinate and wait until too much time has gone by to go back and calculate the totals. All of these things are just hole punched and kept in their binders for the year. We try to take the Stanford test every year until high school when we switch to the ACT for college prep. So, the space at the bottom is for those results. It keeps everything filed away in one convenient place in their binders.
For high school, I found this template for their transcripts. I tweaked this some also, but the basic layout is the same. I added a list of course descriptions for each thing on the transcript and how a grade was acquired. A reading list for high school was attached along with a community service and activity list as well. It was about 10 pages all together, but I think it gave his prospective colleges a pretty good sense of his homeschooling and educational experience. I had nothing but positive feedback and he was given a large, presidential scholarship for his academics, so the work paid off.
When the kids were younger they always begged me for report cards, so I would buy some basic forms at our local educational store that only cost about $1 each. These days, they could care less. They just learn and know when they have mastered something or not. We don’t really move on unless they have grasped something or shown mastery, so they pretty much know how they are doing at all times. And, as my son has taken dual-enrollment classes over the last two years, he has received grades from that to add to his transcript.
For those interested in how I handle all of their papers and assignments, storing their past work, and basic organizational methods, I will be blogging about that in another post soon. I know other moms would love to hear how you handle the record-keeping in your home, so feel free to share!