Collecting Samples of Children's Home Educating Progress
© Beverley Paine
Collecting samples for any subject can be relatively easy once you realise that most subjects are related in one way or another, plus get into the habit of using the camera or tape recorder to record children's activities. This ultimately provides a superior record to that teachers in schools are capable of, and children enjoy looking back on their homeschool records later. Many families now use the internet to record progress - uploading photos and short videos to personal websites/blogs.
I would collect any scrap of writing my sons did and put them in a scrapbook. At first I had scrapbooks for different subjects, but then we just had one big scrapbook for each child. I would date the 'sample' and write some evaluative comment (examples are in my book Getting Started with Homeschooling) . Or I would record in our diary a description of what the child had done.
For example: three weeks after a trip on a tram my son build a LEGO tram and tram station in great detail. This activity reflected learning in Society and Environment, Technology, and Art. All I had to do was write about how his skills and understanding had increased in each area. I could write a page on that activity alone, date it, stick it in his 'scrapbook' and if I took a photo, add that too. He could add a couple of sentences.
Because this activity covered learning in many areas it can be used to illustrate progress in any one of those areas by comparing it with more recent insights or skill acquisition. It could be that a couple of months later my son might have had a conversation with me comparing trams to trains and asking why we have both (and why one is electrified and one is diesel). This conversation could be recorded in the same way as above, and covers increasing understanding and knowledge in both SOSE and Technology.
I wouldn't record everything my children did, just the activities I could see were packed with new learning. We all know when our children cover new ground with their questions and activities.
Flipping back through the scrapbooks and diaries would provide me with two samples that showed progress. Often just a drawing or a scribble in the scrapbook, or a photo, was enough for me to remind me of what the child learned that day and I could ramble on for a couple of paragraphs. Dating records is important.
I did all this recording not for the benefit of getting registration but because it built my confidence as a competent educator. On the days that I felt I was a hopeless educator the diaries and scrapbooks said otherwise. I also kept them just in case when my children grew up they'd accuse me of not teaching them at all, because we unschooled - those scrapbooks were going to my defense! As it was, we never needed them.
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Since 1989 Beverley Paine has steadfastly promoted and supported home education as an educational choice for Australia families. Her books and websites aim to demystify education, gently deschooling families so that they may meet their children's individual and unique educational and developmental needs. Her honesty, insights and wealth of experience continues to bring hope, reassurance and confidence to families. Beverley publishes her recent articles, tips and links to resources in her quarterly magazine, Homeschool Unschool