Homeschool Planning & Record Keeping ~ Not Back to School Blog Hop

There are many new families joining the homeschool community this year (and we’re so happy to have you) and I have been answering many questions. Many new families are curious about planning and recording progress. How do we do that? Are there special procedures or programs that we are required to use? Truthfully, that depends a lot on your state’s legal requirements for homeschool. So my first piece of advice would be to take a look at your state’s laws and determine the requirements. For example we live in Maine; our state requires we keep attendance (we need to school 175 days) and our child’s progress is to be evaluated at the end of the year. I feel fortunate that in our state we can choose either to complete a portfolio that will be looked over by a certified teacher or standardized tests. Once you have looked at your stated laws, you will be ready to begin planning your homeschool day or year!

Creating Your School Year Calendar

When I begin planning for my homeschool year the first thing I do is create our school calendar. The first year I homeschooled, I followed the school calendar. However, soon I discovered this really wasn’t functional for our life. My husband’s work schedule is not your typical 9-5, Monday thru Friday. We quickly realized that we wanted to spend time with Dad on his days off! So my first tip when you are planning your yearly calendar is to take into account your family.

We are also what I consider year-round homeschoolers–we take several breaks throughout the year instead of one big break in the summer. We all know how busy the months of November and December can be, so I tend to take a more relaxed approach. This year we are taking the 6 weeks on, one week off approach. You can read more about our relaxed homeschool approach from last year’s blog hop. So knowing how many days are required for schooling by my state and taking into account my family, I will create our homeschool calendar. I make several copies, place one in my homeschool binder, each kid’s binder and one on the fridge. 

Creating A Homeschool Binder

My homeschool binder is the hub of my homeschool planning. I feel it is important to be prepared and organized. Now, this doesn’t mean that I stick to my plans like stone. No, if the beach calls to us on a school day, I have no problem shifting our school days forward. But, it is important to have a solid foundation so you are not spending more time looking for materials and prepping work so you lose your child’s prime learning time. If you are a member of schoolhouseteachers.com, I hope you have had the opportunity to check out the new Smart Mama planner. I have it already printed and I LOVE IT!! If you are unsure about schoolhouseteachers.com check out my review to learn more about the great homeschooling tools and courses it has to offer. 

In my binder each child has their own section with blank planning sheets for each. I have created several sheets to help keep important information for each child; attendance tracking sheet, book log, education websites with passwords, field trip log, and education goals with space for progress notes. Now, I don’t have to do too much lesson planning because most of the curriculum choices I make have lesson plans already completed. So I might just place the master copy of the lesson plans in my binder and a copy in my child’s binder. Then I will write the corresponding lesson on their planning sheet and make a copy for myself. 

Having all this information and documentation in one spot is great for recording or monitoring progress. This also helps me in deciding if I need to change my teaching approach or curriculum choices for my children. I also keep a list of curriculum ideas, wants, needs, and supplies for our homeschool. Doing this helps me with budgeting our homeschool needs as well. 

Each state has different rules regarding record keeping for transcripts or evaluation. If your state requires test scores or grades, keeping them organized in a binder is a great idea. If you are creating transcripts for your child, keeping them in your binder makes them easy to access. Our state allows us to choose our evaluation method, so we choose to create a portfolio for our children.

Creating A Child’s Portfolio Binder

We choose to create a portfolio to document our children’s progress through the year. My goal is to make my kids excited about the school year, so I personalize their binder cover. At the front of the binder is the school year schedule along with their weekly planning sheet. Previous weekly planning sheets are kept behind the current week.  I use pocket dividers to separate the subjects, I like having pockets to hold any completed worksheets. Each section can contain the subject lesson plans and worksheets that need to be completed. My kid’s binder contains the following sections: Science, History, Health, Language Arts, Bible, Math, Art, Music, and any electives. 

With each child having their own binder and saving their work in the correct subject area, creating a yearly portfolio becomes easier. We also take many pictures of projects and each child’s work process, these can easily be placed in the pocket dividers. If you do testing and grading you could place a grading sheet in each section as well.  For art, I like to keep page protectors in this section, this helps to keep my child’s artwork protected and organized. Keeping my children’s work in their individual binders really helps me and them to see the progress made over the year. This can be a really great confidence booster as well, my daughter loves to see the progress she made over the course of the year. 

I hope I have been able to give you some ideas on planning/recording your homeschool year. Be sure to check out some blog posts from my fellow crew mates on their planning and record keeping strategies. 

—oOo—

Yvonne Billian is a member of the Homeschool Review Crew. She is married to Matt and they are raising their two kids in Western Maine. You can read more about their homeschooling journey and life in Maine on The Life We Build.  Connect with Yvonne on social media here: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest.

IF you missed yesterday’s post on How do I teach …? here are a few posts to inspire you.

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses shares Help How do I teach High School at Home?.

Yvie @ Homeschool on the Range shares Teaching Teens – Note-taking Skills .

Annette @ A Net in Time shares Four Approaches to SchoolhouseTeachers.

Vickie B @ Tumbleweed News shares How I taught 20+ kids at home {Blog Hop}.

Teresa @ Teresa Brouillette shares How to Teach Homeschool.

Dawn P @ Schoolin’ Swag shares How to Teach… What I Don’t Know.

Laurie @ School Days shares How Do I Teach…?.

Lori @ At Home: where life happens shares Teaching It All..

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