Reasons to Keep Regular Homeschooling Records
© Beverley Paine
I often hear parents commenting that they don't want to 'waste time' on recording their children's learning. I'm not sure that they are aware that most of their worries about home education and the legal issues arise, for the most part, from a lack of confidence in learning naturally. I've only ever met one or two parents who felt so confident that they could convince anyone of the efficacy of the approach without resorting to refering to their records - and I wasn't one of them!
Recording - whether by the delightful approach that a snap happy friend of mine does, by keeping her digital camera handy all day, or by jotting notes in a diary, writing anecdotal or explanatory notes on children's samples of work and building a portfolio (a joy to flip through forever) - gets us in touch with the processes at work: how our children learn. Because we have to pay attention and watch closely and think about what is going on when our child does this or that, or says something different, or behaves in a different manner, and reflect on that, we are better able to discern his or her preferred learning style. This in turn helps us to work out different ways to build on his strengths, or strengthen her weaknesses or expand his limitations. Some of us do this naturally: I know I did but I also acknowledge that I was prone to forgetfulness. Eventually I decided to keep records more often to help my less than perfect memory. With three children I also frequently fell prey to treating them as homogenous humans, ignoring that fact that they were individuals and had completely different ways of perceiving and learning about the world!
In the end, if you don't want to comply with local regulations, then you are, in effect, protesting against them. This is an ethical stand that living in Australia allows. How you protest is up to you. I always go for a low key, least stressful approach as that is the way I'm built. Keeping records allowed me to build a confidence in my role as home educator to the point I could easily hold my ground in a roomful of teachers. Thomas (19) was never 'registered' as a home schooler yet we were never approached to register by departmental officials. I knew that if we were challenged I could prove, using evidence from our record keeping regime, that he was progressing in all areas of child development. Being prepared meant that if such a situation ever arose I wouldn't find myself panicked and forced into rash actions which I might later regret.
Record keeping - in any form - is also a very useful skill to demonstrate. It's the cornerstone of scientific advancement. Businesses wouldn't prosper without keeping records. There are many different ways to record a project - and educating our children at home is a project - and all of these ways have instrinsic educational value. If we stop seeing record keeping as an onerous burden and begin to view it as simply another useful tool in our educational tool bag it is no longer a waste of time and energy.
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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.
Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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