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Well Planned Day – Homeschool

April Planning Tip

How Do I Keep Annual Records?

As the year draws to a close, it becomes time to consider how to keep a record of the work done. What exactly goes into your records? How much do you need to keep? Is there a template? What information do you really need?

We already touched on this briefly when we discussed the overall concept of grading and record-keeping, but now that it’s actually time to process what you do and don’t need to record, let’s take a closer look. 

Start by Checking with Your State

Because each state has different record-keeping laws, it’s important to start by knowing your state laws. In some states, you are completely free to make your own record-keeping decisions because no specific reporting is required. Other states don’t necessarily require that you submit work or grades or reports, but they want you to have them on hand, just in case. 

Finally, there are those states that do require reporting. This can range from simple reporting of grades or required annual standardized testing to having to submit a full portfolio outlining subjects covered and including sample work from specific points throughout the year. 

Knowing your state’s laws is critical for solid homeschooling. Check with the department of education or your state’s homeschool association to find more information.

Determine Your Personal Preference

Once you know what the state requires, then determine what you want. In the September planning tip, we covered how to choose what samples to keep. Start by reviewing that article. 

Next, set a time to sort through this year’s projects, assignments, and worksheets to see if anything stands out as evidence of progress. But, go ahead and also set some boundaries. Before you get started, set in your mind the number of assignments that you want to keep for each student, then hold yourself accountable by writing that number down and keeping track. 

Let me say this, though: if this is your first year of homeschooling, don’t be afraid to keep multiple things. You’re possibly going to be a little sentimental right now, and these assignments are tangible evidence of the progress of your homeschool year. 

In the coming years, you can review past years, trim down what you’re keeping, and make room for each new year. That’s a healthy practice.

Remember the Purpose

The key to remember is that record keeping accomplishes several specific purposes. Obviously, we want mementos of our children’s growing up experience. This is why we keep baby books and take photos. We want triggers that help us remember. Record keeping is a great way to expand this beyond those early years. 

Additionally, record keeping helps us make decisions for the future. We can look back and get a big picture, gaining significant information about our children. What assignments did they prefer? What projects seemed to breathe life into their learning? What emphasized their learning styles? 

Third, record keeping gives a tangible picture of progress. This is so important for helping combat discouragement and frustration. Our children have no idea how far they’ve come, especially when they are confronted on a daily basis with concepts that are challenging to them. When we can pull out old work and show them where they were a year ago, they can see concrete evidence that the effort is paying off. 

Finally, record keeping helps us make decisions for our other children. When we keep records and samples, they serve as memory triggers for how our curriculum worked, what the assignments were like, and how each child responded. This can help us know if the curriculum will be a good fit for younger children.

Keep It Simple

Again, though, remember to keep it simple. Sometimes keeping your planner with all of the evaluation notes is extremely sufficient for record-keeping. Add in a few pictures of favorite projects or a couple of scanned assignments, and you have a very solid record of what your students accomplished each year. 

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