In the early days of our home education journey I would buy a business diary every year with half an A4 page of blank lines for each day, however on a good week I only managed to write one or two entries. After a few years of feeling like a record keeping failure, I began buying blank notebooks and aimed to write one entry summation at the conclusion of each week. Whilst that didn’t always happen I no longer had blank days accusing me, mostly I managed to write at the end of at least a fortnight and generally I wrote an assessment at the end of each term, so felt I was keeping my ‘finger on the pulse’ of record keeping.As a visual person when I discovered blogger I knew I had found my record keeping niche. For the past five years I have maintained a learning blog that has been the perfect solution for my needs. In one spot I can organise my planning, keep lists of books read, record notes of learning achieved and write term/yearly reviews. The ability to label posts with the pertinent child’s name, the term/year, grade level, subject matter etc has created a wonderful record and resource for us over the last half decade. My goal is to write at the conclusion of each week, though the reality is one entry may cover two/three weeks work.
In NSW the Board of Studies requires that after the initial registration, our renewal of registration applications (every two years) are to include not only our lesson plans but some form of evaluation. The simple solution for me is to print off one of my learning notes entries and a term review. Term/yearly reviews is simply an overview observation written on each child, how their progressing, their strengths, their weaknesses, areas to next focus on. The children’s written work is gathered and bound at the conclusion of each year.
We have chosen as a family to create our own study course based on skills needed to be learnt and areas of interest, we need to have structure and yet flexibility, therefore our record keeping reflects this. Living books play a large basis in our learning and each record written will include lists of books read. I feel very strongly that my records are primarily for my use (though always happy to share with friends) therefore I refuse to use ‘teacher speak’ and will use language that makes sense to me.
At the beginning of each term I spend time planning direction for our next ten weeks learning, I then break this down into ‘bite size’ chunks for each child in an excel spreadsheet. As I always save any spreadsheets, it is mostly a simple matter of copying the previous term’s sheet and making alterations where needed, these ‘expectation’ sheets also help greatly when it comes time to record work achieved. It is simple to sit with each child at the conclusion of each week with their sheet in hand, I jot down what they have achieved and their responses to their work. This way I not only keep abreast with record keeping but keep tabs on areas in which the child/ren may need help with and what they are succeeding with. This is particularly important with my highschoolers as the majority of their work they achieve independently, and regular ‘meetings’ are vital to keep abreast.
Whilst it has taken me a number of years to find the balance between too little and too much record keeping (and planning), needing to leave the bulk of my time for educating, I also have come to realise what an extremely useful tool well kept and accessible records can be.
*If you are keen to look at my learning blog simply drop me a line.