Probably one of the most difficult tasks as a homeschooling parent is organizing your teaching schedule. I’ve been keeping track of what I teach our children since our oldest was 3, so only about 4 years now. It hasn’t always been easy, but I think the biggest two questions for me have been, “What exactly should I keep track of?” and “WHY am I keeping track of this information?”
If you’re new at homeschooling let me start you off by sending you HERE before you read any further. After you finish reading about Homeschool Planning be sure to come back and finish reading. 🙂
I started off using a simple Excel spreadsheet and typed in what books we read, games we played and any specific things I taught. Then I changed from that format to listing what we did by subjects. I find that listing what we do by subject isn’t as easy as it sounds because some things fall into multiple subjects and some things really don’t seem to fit anywhere. For example, Health & Safety lessons. I’ve seen these listed with PE, Science & even Social Studies. For elementary age children I don’t think it really matters.
Anyway, to get back on track… The Excel spreadsheet was nice, but it just didn’t do everything I wanted so last spring I started using Homeschool Skedtrack. This is a free program that helps you organize everything from attendance, lessons and grades to field trips and hobbies. Two of my favorite things about this program is it allows you to print out a very nice and official looking report card, plus I can access our children’s records from any computer no matter where I am. This means that if I’m on vacation or at the in-laws I can still easily log what we’ve done that day.
I have come to the point that I’m tired of logging each and every lesson and activity that we do throughout the day. It’s time consuming and I don’t really see that I ever go-back and look over everything we did last week or even last quarter. Now I’m taking a step back and looking at the big picture. Back to the two questions I asked earlier: “What exactly should I keep track of?” and “WHY am I keeping track of this information?”
Alabama state law only requires attendance. I obviously want to keep some type of record of what we do each school year, but having a daily list of activities may just be an over-kill. I really like the idea of having a list of all the field trips we took for the year and a list of the resources I used for each subject. For these reasons I plan to continue using Homeschook Skedtrack, but I plan to start using a simple checklist that I can check off as we do each subject.
In addition, I’m going to use a 3-ring binder to keep a printed copy of attendance, report cards, field trip reports, planned course of study, resources used, etc. This is a difficult concept for me because I’m such a computer based person it seems like going in reverse to have more things on paper. For homeschooling though, I find that it’s nice to have something in my hand that I can quickly refer back to during the day if I need to. The 3-ring binder also makes it easy to show grandparents or other loved ones what your child has accomplished.
I’ve modified my record keeping a bit since this post. Check out the changes along with pictures at “Organizing Paperwork – What to Keep?”