Monday, March 15, 2010

Record Keeping 101

One of the most asked questions I receive about homeschooling, (other than the "socialization" question), is, "How do you keep records?"

Another one is, "How do you stay sane?"

Obviously, they haven't read my blog. They'd know that I gave up that dream a long time ago!

Record keeping is one of the easiest parts of homeschooling. Up until high school level, records are pretty much for your eyes only, so that you and your child can keep track of strengths and areas for concern. Without records, you'd probably do just fine, but it is nice to have a visual reminder of what the kids have learned.

And it gives both of you a feeling of accomplishment on those days that feel like a hamster wheel, turning, turning, turning and never going anywhere!

Or so I've heard.

I, of course, have not had any of those kinds of days.

School is always perfectly organized with my perfect children happily sitting perfectly still in their chairs, cramming every last bit of information into their perfect little brains, while begging for more curricula and less free-time...

What? Did I doze off again? Wow, that was some dream.....

To keep home-school records, invest in a record book of some sort. You can keep records in one of those little green ledgers, a spiral, or 3-ring binder, but I prefer purchasing a record book specifically for school. This way, the Mister doesn't "borrow" my book to keep a running track of bills in, or pages don't disappear as scratch paper for a long division problem.

I have one per child, starting in the 4th grade. In Washington state, children do not need to be schooled until age 8, or tested until third grade is completed, therefore, I see no need to keep track until fourth grade.

Besides, up until this point, kids are happy with a shiny star sticker or a happy face on their page! They don't care about grades!

Oh wait, that was me.

This is how I keep our records. They are very primitive and messy, but I can read them and that's all that matters! (This is NOT the copy we send to college with our graduates!) And since these books are intended for classrooms with many children in them, there is plenty of room to keep records for several years. Even with mistakes!

Each quarter is divided into 10 weeks. At the end of those 10 weeks, I tally up the grades. At the bottom of that page, I record the child's quarterly GPA, followed by their cumulative GPA. Since we do school year-round, most quarters we will have a week or two crossed out. This is when we take little road trips, work around the farm, prepare for the holidays or recover from an illness. During this time, school is still taking place, we just aren't doing "seat work".

This is the grading scale we use...


There is no credit given for anything less than a 70%. Less than a C average, means that the child isn't getting it and needs to do it over. Sometimes that means that I, as their teacher/mom, need to find a different way to teach the same thing.

During the high school years, the kids need some kind of a permanent record to be kept. For us, we keep a spreadsheet on a floppy disk and update it at the end of each year. When enough credits have been earned and a graduation date is imminent, we print the records and have it notarized.

Most of our children have taken classes at our local community college through a program called "Running Start". The school district pays for the credits and we *cough* up the dough for books. Then we usually get squeezed for some more money for lab fees. But...we don't have to pay the tuition cost! Huge savings! The kids are able to earn both their high school diploma and an associates degree at the same time.

A great resource for teaching through high school is a book by my friend, Barb Shelton. She is the reason that I jumped into the home-school pool. With her wit, wisdom and willingness to share their own home-school journey, this is a book that every home-school family should read.

Barb has a wonderful website called Homeschool Oasis that is full of information for families that are just getting started, to veteran homeschoolers suffering from burn-out. On a personal note, Barb is one of the most awesome, Godly ladies that I have ever had the pleasure to know and I know that you will be as blessed by her as I have been.


Cindy said...

Such good info. It is awesome for you to share your wisdom. It is hard to get started, isn't it. This is round two for us and I am doing it different this time.

My sister lays out a great book for me every year. We're a little behind today :( per usual. But, not to worry.... there is always tomorrow :)

Hope your school day was great.

Lisa @ Life with 4! said...

Thanks for sharing this. I don't homeschool.... yet. I would love to but my hubby is still not sure.
I'm always looking for ways to prepare myself and the kids if he decides to let me give it a try.

Anonymous said...

That's my transcript! Oh, I was so smart :)