Homeschool Organization: 5 Ways to Stay on Top of It!
If you’ve been homeschooling for any amount of time, you’ve already learned that keeping accurate records is important. For some, record-keeping is a legal requirement. For others, it just suits their personality. Still others keep records as a way to “prove” to well-meaning relatives that the kids are learning. Finally, parents of high schoolers often keep records because they’ll need them if their children are college-bound.
Whatever your reasons are for record-keeping, it’s an important aspect of homeschooling and is one that some parents choose to delegate to others by enrolling in an umbrella school or using an online charter school that tracks records. Parents who delegate this task usually do so because it seems daunting and can be hard to stay on top of on a regular basis. Here are five tips you can implement today to make record-keeping easier!
- Don’t procrastinate!
With everything going on every day, it’s so easy to fall behind on record-keeping. It’s one thing to check the work; it’s another thing to assign it a grade and then log that grade. The last two steps, while necessary, aren’t overwhelming if you do them as each assignment happens. However, if you wait until the end of high school to try to pull together a four-year transcript, it will be incredibly overwhelming. One way you can avoid procrastinating is to set aside time each week specifically for taking grades. Perhaps Sunday afternoon works well for you or maybe Friday morning. Whatever time it is, stick with it. Let the kids know that during this time, you’ll be calling out names for the past week’s assignments and that you’ll need them to stay on track to expedite things. Then, take it one subject at a time. Start with history, for instance, and go around the room asking each child for the history grades she had that week. When you finish logging history, move onto math, etc. With everyone prepared, this weekly routine only took us around 45-60 minutes for 3 kids to cover 6-7 subject areas.
- Simplify things
Although you may be keeping records for attendance, weekly grades, and a high school transcript, you don’t need to have multiple sheets of paper for these logs/reports. Instead, consider adding as much information to one record as you can. Keeping attendance can be as simple as putting a checkmark on a calendar every day. Adding that information to your child’s “report card” makes logging annual attendance a breeze! Rather than having one record for each bit of information, consolidate. Let your “annual report” include grades, attendance, courses your child took (including electives) and your child’s GPA (for high school).
- Color Code
If you have more than one child you’re homeschooling, choose one color for each child, and write out everything related to that child in the child’s assigned color. If you’re homeschooling just one child, you can also color code according to subjects, assignment types (e.g. test, quizzes, daily work, after school work, projects, etc.), or due dates. This way, you’ll know – at a quick glance – what work each child needs to complete.
- Create Easy Access
If you have to dig through mountains of paperwork or bins filled with worksheets and other things, you’ll likely give up on keeping records. The solution? Make them easily accessible. Think about what you’re comfortable doing on a daily (or near-daily) basis and go from there. For some, this means using hanging file folders, especially if your records are in printed format. For others, this means using an online tracker or creating an Excel sheet (or Google Sheet).
- Enlist the Kids
Kids – especially older kids – are very capable of keeping track of certain records on their own. For attendance, provide each child with a printed calendar for the year and have him circle days he does school and put an “x” over the days he’s absent. Kids can also track their own schoolwork grades. Use a free printable for tracking grades (print one for each subject) or teach them how to use your online system if that’s the route you’ve chosen. In any case, the record-keeping doesn’t have to fall on your shoulders completely.