I’ve had a few questions about how I do record keeping for homeschooling. Even though I’ve got one back at a school now after two years learning at home, I’ve still got one homeschooling. And if there’s one thing I freaking lurve about homeschooling, apart from being able to spend so much glorious time with my kids… it’s being an organisational fruitcake. I actually really enjoy the record keeping process!
I know it can feel like a chore sometimes to do homeschool records. I thought I’d share with you what I do… I find it quite enjoyable and I love that they double as amazing memory keeping of our lives. I’ll look back at these few years of homeschool records with SO much pride, joy and gratitude!
Check with what your state needs!
One thing I wanted to mention before I dive into my methods as well… your homeschool reporting requirements will change from state to state, country to country.
I know some people can feel pissed about having to do reporting, but I feel grateful that I live in a place where homeschooling is legal and has a fair amount of personal freedom. I know some countries in Europe homeschooling is illegal. And I’m also grateful that governments do check to make sure that every child gets access to education, whether that’s at home or school.
Again: Check with your state/country about the rules + reporting!
At the start of each year + term…
I also write a Google Doc of learning goals + ideas for that year.
Instead, I find it way more useful to buy these Student Goals PDFs from Teachers Pay Teachers. They are from an Australian teacher, and breaks down the Australian Curriculum into easy to understand goals and skills to develop.
Then I look at what resources I could use for all those areas, but I tend to add things in and take things out all the time, as I find them, love them, use them or find they aren’t working anymore.
I also ask my kids what THEY want to learn about, and we talk about how they might want to learn about it. (Like: books, documentaries, excursions, internet research, art projects, science experiments etc.)
You can read my free ebook hereabout doing a more project based homeschooling model. I do less time homeschooling than I did when I wrote that ebook, as I relaxed into seeing how much they were learning. I did however add in a more structured literacy program instead of a whole word approach, as that worked better for one of my kids. That’s the thing with homeschooling – methods, timing and resources change all the time. It’s the beauty of it! Complete customisation!
Here’s how I keep track of all the things we learn:
I keep daily lists in my planner (I use a Happy Planner – the biggest size) of what we did that day for homeschooling. I tend to write in the tasks as they happen, or shortly after as I have a fairly shit memory. I also take photos of activities as we do them and print the photos at the end of the week to add into the planner. The photos help remember anything I’ve forgotten.
The planner ends up becoming a really beautiful memory-keeping scrapbook of our days, weeks and months.
It’s probably overkill in terms of my actual homeschooling reporting requirements, but it works for me, and helps my brain feel across everything.
Plus, my kids enjoy seeing their learning adventures celebrated like this.
I do a quick weekly reflection on a card insert (it’s green in the above picture). I write on the back what worked that week, what didn’t, and what I want to change going ahead.
Homeschool legislation often requires that you do have regular teacher reflections, so something as simple as this can help.
If you’re looking for a guided resource to help you document your kids’ learning activities and your own reflections, Beverley Paine’s diaries are excellent. All of her stuff is!
I’ve met Bev years ago, and she is a glorious soul. She’s really one of the grandmothers of home education in Australia, and I so appreciate her and her work!
I also create lists of books we are reading through.
For a while there, I used a printed Reading Log that I created:
This year I don’t want to spend as much time documenting how much we read, as I know that we definitely read enough! I just keep note of the very best ones, and the ones that correlated well with learning a specific curriculum item.
I gather all our “learning evidence” in foolscap folders that I file things in daily.
Examples of learning artefacts:
Here’s an example of a learning artefact:
It was just starting to move into Spring. There is a curriculum area just on knowing the seasons of the year. I thought it would be beautiful to go on a walk to spot the incoming signs of Spring. We took an Instax camera with us to document.
Once we came back, we made a little book, and my kid wrote in it and illustrated it. And the whole thing covered so many subject areas: science, P.E., art, photography, writing + spelling. I love when projects can do that!
Then I pop all the artefacts in the foolscap folder once my kids are finished with enjoying them.
Then, at the end of term, I put the folders into a file box labelled with the term + year.
I also like to put together a list of what activities we did that term as a brief synopsis. Sometimes I did on a piece of paper, sometimes I did in Google Doc.
It’s really nice to look back over everything you do in a term – it always made me feel excited to see how much we’d covered and learned!
Then I put the file box in the cupboard with the rest of the year’s boxes.
That way, once it comes to doing a yearly report (which is compulsory in our state), it’s pretty simple for me to fill it out. I don’t have to remember anything – it’s all documented for me.
You’ll find a recordkeeping rhythm that works for you and your family (and what your state requires). What works for me doesn’t mean it’s the one right way. There’s never just one right way… just the one that’s right for you right now!
All these memories are such a happy place for me. Even if we didn’t need them for records, I’d still want to keep them anyway.
Start of a new school year in Australia, and one of my kids is trying out a new school. We’ve been homeschooling for close to two years now, and have been loving it. But then we checked out a little independent school and fell in love, and she wanted to try it out. It’s two days in, and so far so great.
It’s a big adjustment to all of us though – we all have to find our new routine in it all. We are still homeschooling one kid, and she is having to learn how to play independently for a few hours a day. We are still working out our schedule, and I’m looking for where to carve out some work hours.
I’ve had a snotty teared Start Of School Year Mama Meltdown (TM).
It must be a thing, right? I always feel panicked that I don’t have my optimum routine down pat on Day One! I don’t feel like I’m totally organised to be a school mama. And I don’t feel on top of our homeschool curriculum and work/life schedule either. But Mr D keeps reminding me… we have time, Leonie. Just take it slowly. One thing at a time. We will work this out too, just like we always have.
So here I am, at my little bamboo desk, chamomile tea on hand. Crafting out some time to create and write. Because if I don’t, it all becomes a bit too much. This life thing is INTENSE, yeah?
After we dropped off one kid to first day of school yesterday, we took the other one on a celebratory breakfast at a cafe. Then we strolled down to the river and watched fish glint in the water for a while.
The best thing I’ve learned from my parenting journey so far is to let go of the belief that things have to be a certain way. Let go of any cults of belief that there is only One Right Way to raise or educate a child. And instead just do what is right for you and your kid. And so often what is Right changes over time too, and what is Right differs for each kid too!
I’m just going to keep turning up. Keep doing the right thing for me, and for us. In whatever way that looks, whatever name that has. And trust in the great beauty and wonder of it all. That my kids will get what they need out of these experiences. And that we will too.
That doesn’t really have anything about what I wanted to talk about today, but I felt like I couldn’t NOT say it, yeah?
But then, that’s what we’ve always done here together: deeply personal with a touch of business/goals/life shenanigans.
I wish we could sit for a cup of tea in the grass and you could tell me about your intense life too.
Here’s what else I’ve been thinking of lately:
Now my Academy has closed to new customers + will formally retire in October, I’m in a place for the first time in eight years I can create something completely new outside of the Academy container.
E-courses! Group coaching! Books!
All the creative possibilities!
And there’s some ideas brewing there, but I must admit, for the first time in a loooong ass time I am feeling timid. Timid of jumping back in that creative saddle again, giving birth to a whole new vision.
I know it will happen, I just have to trust that I can ride the wild donkey… I’ve done it hundreds of times already! It’s gotta be muscle memory, right?
Now that spending is not an option for me, I just redirect my energies elsewhere. I’ve definitely managed to be more productive in the process.
Plus, I am REALLY enjoying the process of reading all my unread books at last. The only hiccup is that with some books, the reason they are unread is because I started them and they were shit. And I popped them down, hoping they’d improve over time, or that maybe I was just in the wrong mood to read them. Upon picking them back up, they are still shit. I forced myself through one of them just to finish it.
From now on, I will give a book twenty pages to improve, and if it doesn’t, it will go straight to my Book Release pile (these usually end up with a friend or charity).
The incredible thing I’m discovering is that SO many of the books are PERFECT for where I am right now. I’ve already read 50 books in a month, and feel like I’m giving myself a mini MBA as I’m doing it. My levels of knowledge + confidence are HUGE compared to where I was a month ago.
So – possums – if you’ve got books on your shelves… READ ‘EM!
They are there to help!
How am I, really?
I have a friend who says: “But how are you REALLY?”
And you know that you can let it all drop down and just be as you are. Just tell the truth, and let it be enough.
How am I, really?
Up and down. Around and around.
Life – in parenting, marriage, ageing parents and the rest – is filled with days of contentment and gladness, and days of complication, pain and mess. As Glennon Doyle would call it: “it’s brutal and beautiful – it’s brutiful.”
I want to cultivate grace and stoicism in all of it.
And fortify myself with lashings of time with myself and creativity. Those two things are the best medicine I know for all that ails me.
Plus I keep on thinking of what my darling Deb says:
Row, Row, Row Your Boat really gives you all the messages you need for your life. There’s so many layers of deep meaning in it! Listen:
Row, row, row your boat Gently down the stream Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily Life is but a dream.
Research shows that 80% of people don’t set goals, 16% think of goals, 3% write down their goals and just 1% write down their goals AND regularly review them. And it is that 1% that sees the highest amount of success in all areas of life: from career to health to relationships. Not many people take the time to set their goals – they just hope life will miraculously take them there. The time spent in dreaming up and planning your year ahead can make all the difference. Setting goals is building a sail for your boat so you get to set the direction for where life will take you, instead of being buffeted about by the waves and tides.
Your workbooks tend to divide life into different elements – why is this important? Which areas are often overlooked?
When people usually think of goals, they think of maybe 1-3 goals. Usually generic ones like: lose weight, stop addictive or damaging behaviours, reduce debt or earn more money. Basically, it’s crisis management goal setting – only setting goals for the places that are most negatively impacting them. The workbooks instead take you through a guided process of looking at every area of your life instead of just the ones that are on fire. Most people neglect to set goals for their families, relationships, self care, home, time management, creativity and so much more. It’s the holistic approach to goal setting that means you’re not just putting fires out, you’re actively building a delicious dream life that fits you.