How much documentation do you recommend for us to keep? I keep a plan book, but I’m wondering about samples of students work. Can you give me some pointers?
Homeschool records is a very broad term. Let’s make it simple and break it down into pieces.
Plans & Journals
Most homeschool parents keep records of what they are teaching their students. For some it is simply a calendar that marks the lessons completed. For others, it is an actual teacher’s lesson plan book that has been adapted for homeschooling. There are lots of resources available to homeschool families though – both free and elegantly expensive. We use a FREE online planner at HomeschoolSkedtrack.com.
This part of the homeschool records is very important. It is your documentation of work completed. My plans usually fit nicely in a 3 ring binder which I save in case there is any question of our integrity and thoroughness in homeschooling.
So, I would keep this available until your child is graduated. Elementary records are not usually questioned, but high school credits may need to be validated.
This is all the paper that you gather from your students. It can be worksheets. It can be artwork. It can be reports. It can be displays. Here’s where you need to do as I say and not as I do! (HAHA)
There are tons of wonderful organizational blogs and books that give you great options for handling this towering pile of paper and “stuff.” I recommend pulling out 10 of your favorite memories or your student’s best accomplishments to put inside your planning notebook at the end of each school year. If it is a display, take a picture or several pictures, print on a single sheet of paper, and file away in your notebook. Some even put everything in a digital file to save even more space!
What to do with the leftover paperwork and “stuff”? At a homeschool convention, I heard one mom share their yearly ritual of ending the school year with a bonfire. She set aside a day for her children to go through their notebooks and schoolwork. Each child picked out a few favorite memories and moments to document. Then, when Dad arrived home, they would enjoy an early evening bonfire and family celebration.
This is really a matter of preference for each family. I currently keep all our schoolwork in plastic bins. As a new homeschool mom, I was overly concerned about questions and legal issues. I thought it was better to be safe than sorry. I’m sure I need counseling to let it go…
What about report cards and progress reports? These are a part of every school child’s cumulative file. If you were to ask a school about records, they would have this file to display.
The cumulative file is ONE file. It is not a book. It simply contains attendance records, test scores, report cards, and SOMETIMES progress reports.
Every homeschool parent should keep a cumulative file at home. Some states have parents report this information to the state, a school, or a counselor. I recommend that all parents keep copies of whatever is submitted to another organization.
If you are in a state that does not require recordkeeping, don’t get lazy on this! You never know when you may move, and those records are much easier to keep now than to “remember” later.
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