Keeping Track of Your Homeschool

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 Welcome back to 10 Days of Large Family Homeschooling!
Start at the beginning of the series.

If I could choose the one homeschooling conversation I tend to have over and over with other homeschooling moms, it would hands-down be the “homeschool record-keeping” conversation.  Frankly, it is not my favorite conversation, but it sure does keep a lot of moms up at night.

Tonight, I hope you rest easy…

What are your homeschooling laws?

Before you ever begin to try to keep track of homeschooling, you need to know what exactly you are required to keep track of.  States vary from super strict to super lenient, so be sure to check out your state laws on HSLDA.

By the way, a lot of states have laws that say something like:

Student attendance must be equivalent to the public school’s (i.e. 186 days per year, 1116 hours per year).

If that is the case with your state, then please, read my post on How Many Hours it Takes to Homeschool.

Decide how you want to keep track.

I live in a state where the laws are not very strict, so my keeping track will look quite different from say, homeschool moms living in Pennsylvania.  Once you know your state’s law, you can make a more informed decision about HOW you are going to keep track of your school year.  From one mom to another, my biggest piece of advice is

Don’t make it harder than you have to.

Here are some ideas to choose from:

  • Attendance record – Similar to public school, you keep track of every day school is in session, assuming your day is similar in hours to a public school day.
  • Homeschool Planner or software – These can be in the form of paper files or computer files.  The best ones are the ones that can be used over and over.  Here is an extensive list of planner pages and software.
  • School Binder or notebook – This is an easy way to keep track that doesn’t require any forethought.  After your school day, you simply write down all you’ve done that day that constitutes school.  You WILL be surprised!
  • Assignment sheets – Another easy way to keep track is to let your assignment sheets serve as your record.  Put them all into a folder and call it good.

{Note:  If you are looking for help in creating a transcript for your child or for simply understanding how to keep track of it all in high school, I HIGHLY recommend The Total Transcript Solution from The HomeScholar.  Phenomenal product and very easy to understand and implement!}

Now, that we’ve established how you are going to keep track of your year, let’s figure out the day-to-day stuff.

As I mentioned in my Organizing the Large Family Homeschool post, I have adapted over the years, so let me give you some posts from here at Raising Arrows that reflect some of the things we have done in the past to track the day to day homeschool assignments.

1.  Large Family Workboxes – I used a modified workbox method for years, but as my methods of homeschooling began to change, I realized my workboxes sat fairly empty and were taking up more space than I wanted to allow them.

2.  Assignment Binders – These were super helpful when I was pregnant.  One of the best parts was they were color-coded by child – oh, how I love my color-coded children!  However, once they wore out, I did not replace them because my oldest was no longer doing any worksheets and again, my methods of homeschooling had changed to more of a lifestyle of learning rather than textbook oriented.  However, at the time, they were a lifesaver!

3.  Markable Assignment Cards – I only used these for a short time, but thought they deserved a mention anyway.

4.  Quick and Easy Assignment Cards – When my 7th born had colic, this was how we rolled.  Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.  This is a great method for the morning sickness days as well.

Currently, I do a full-blown planning session on Saturday or Sunday night using planning pages I printed off the internet.  These are also how I keep record of our days.  I’m trying to be a more intentional planner while I can be.

A word to the wise: when you aren’t in the throes of morning sickness or a new baby, it’s a good idea to do a chunk of planning so that when that time does come, you can avoid the Mommy-Guilt and Shame On Me Syndrome.

And now for the Grand Finale…

What do I keep?

Short answer:  Only keep the really important stuff.

Large families often struggle with the issue of how much to keep when it comes to school things.  It would be easy to end up with boxes and boxes of papers by the end of your homeschooling career if you don’t choose now to take the minimalist approach.

Here are my guidelines as to what makes it into that precious “School Box”:

  • Was it a momentous occasion? – Was it the first time Junior wrote his name?  Was it the first essay Susie wrote that actually made sense?  Was it a project that had been slaved over and finally accomplished?  Those things are box-worthy.
  • Does it show progress? – I try to keep papers and worksheets that show definite progress from one year to the next or from one task to the next.
  • Will I be sorry I didn’t include it? – The shapes book my 6 year old made isn’t nearly as important to me as the All About Me book he made the same year.  I won’t miss the shapes book, but I would be very sorry to not have the book that tells me all about his likes and dislikes, dreams and aspirations as a 6 year old.

Another large family tip pertaining to the School Box -
Label everything with a name, age, and date.  I put everything in one box, but even if you separate out into individual boxes, you will want to remember exactly what age they were.

Now, I hope you have a blessed day and restful night!

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In the Subscriber Pack (FREE to blog subscribers – just enter your email in the big blue box below or in the sidebar), I’ve included some resources to help you keep track of your homeschool.  Once you enter your email address, you will be asked to verify your email and the next time a post goes out, you will find a link at the bottom of my post with a password and link to the Subscribers Only Site.  Enjoy!

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12 thoughts on “Keeping Track of Your Homeschool

  1. Grr…just the thought of record keeping makes me want to curl up under the covers and go back to sleep. I would just rather not do it. However, after 9 years of “formal” homeschooling, I am very glad to have kept great records. Our oldest graduates in 2 weeks and I have so enjoyed looking over her progress together. We’ve shared so many moments – some happy, some miserable(just keeping it real) – all reaching towards the goal of growing our young lady into an accomplished and capable adult.

    Thanks for the tips. These types of encouraging posts are so helpful along the way.

  2. Great information.
    However, HSLDA recommends you keep a full year’s work!
    Buy a cheap file box, put the child’s name on it. We go through work at the end of the year and bind a little book of the child’s work as their keepsake. It does in their “memory box”. The rest can go in the file box…till next year!
    While the information I found on the HDSLA page says:
    http://www.hslda.org/earlyyears/Records.asp

    When I wrote and asked what we ought to keep, the reply I received was:
    ” What we do recommend on a year-by-year basis for legal purposes is that you always keep at least one full school year’s worth of records on file for each child. By one full school year I mean that, if your child is in the middle of 4th grade, you keep all of the 3rd grade year until the 4th grade year is completed and on file. By records, I mean all work assigned to the student, all the work they produce, any tests that you administer, and any other material related to their instruction – reading lists, records of field trips, etc. Just stick it all in one box for each child.
    Once you get into high school, you’ll want to keep some records from each year of high school for each child for the purposes of employment or college admissions. When that becomes an issue, I recommend that you give us a call and ask to speak with a high school coordinator.”

  3. This is a great post. I found Homeschool DayBook a few years ago and it works great for me! It is not too intricate, but yet gets the job done! I would have benefited greatly from this post about two years ago – when I realized one day that I misread the laws for my state and that I had to keep track of hours. Big oops there. but, it all worked out!
    Thanks for taking the time to post this.
    Bethany in mid-MO

  4. Awesome blog. just love following it everyday. So much valuable information. I have 7 children and this is my first year homeschooling and I have learned so much form your blogs.

    I just have one question… is it possible to elaborate on what pages you use for your school pages and how you set it up? I am looking to do a school binder and right now I am gathering up numerous styles to help decide on whats gonna work for me.

    • Hello! Thank you for the kind words. :) Are you wanting to see inside the school binder or are you looking for what specific planner pages I use?

      • how you have ours is laid out and what planner sheets you used. I have visited the site with all of the free planner sheets… very confusing and hard to choose which one is better. With you having a large family also, I was hoping to get advice on what sheets work better. I want to eventually branch off from OhVA (K12) and do reg homeschooling with curriculum, but I want to be prepared and ready and I also want to use it with their current schooling since I also supplament too.. I also want to add the assignment sheets to it too for convience of having it all housed together for back up just in case a child looses theirs.