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Keeping Home Education Records
Many home education parents wonder why they need to keep homeschooling or unschooling records and some see them as simply an imposition. There are many valid reasons for keeping track of your children's educaitonal progress, including:
- an aide to memory
- a celebration of learning
- can prorovides a springboard for further explorations
- linking outcomes of knowledge and skills to the 'big picture' of your child's education
- forming the basis of a reference source, comparison against self, can be reassuring to look back on
- involving your children improves their literacy and mathematical skills, and encourages a sense of responsibility
- potential for revealing insights about what they understand or can do after the activity is completed
- acting as a 'proof' of learning to reassure others
What to record
- Preferably not everything your children do! Children enjoy some privacy;
- Selected samples should easily be able to demonstrate progress - don't forget to date them;
- Include samples of your children's best work as well as anecdotes that describe new abilities or developmental milestones;
- Write down some of your children's questions and insights;
- Collect photos of art, craft, technology projects, excursions, etc;
- A log of what they are reading or the resources they access (text-books, computer programs, people/classes, etc;
- Encourage your children to record their reflections in a regular diary or journal;
- Your reflections on how you are travelling as a home educator, what worked, what didn't, etc.
Different Ways to Record
You can document your children's educational progress using:
- Daily diary - for the parent plus child's personal daily journal. A great habit to develop with lots of educational benefits.
- Photographs, videos - especially useful as a record of social interaction, activities, etc. Helps to overcome the 'socialisation' objection to homeschooling!
- Learning contracts or check/tick lists - these can be in subject areas or for set periods.
- Calendar pages - use a calendar for keeping track of field trips, events, etc.
- Tests - you can create your own, find them in books, or your child can enter national competitions in different subject areas. Collect certificates of merit. Tests and exams aren't required by educational authorities. It is possible to arrange to participate in National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) if you desire.
- Keep 'samples' of your children's work in a folder, portfolio, exercise books or
scrapbooks, on your computer, on a family or personal blog or website.
Record the date and any comments on all 'samples' kept.
- Outlines of learning plans and programs, unit studies, etc.
- Each year review and update your homeschool curriculum (overall learning program).
As your children grow the recording process becomes more important and will form the basis of a portfolio they can present for higher education or employment entrance.
As a home educator I developed a couple of different diary formats: the weekly homeschooling diary is very similar to the familiar school diary and the learning naturally diary has been designed to help parents understand that when children are engaged in play, chores or following their interests they are also learning. Another recording approach I developed when my children were high school age, is the Home Education Report / Portfolio. Similar to an end-of-year school report, this document records major assignments or learning tasks undertaken throughout the year. It also contains broad objectives for students in each subject area. It was my aim in creating these resources to help ease parents into home education and to take the worry out of recording their child's progress.
There are dozens of articles on this site about record keeping and evaluation and assessment. Use the search function or look under 'Record Keeping' or 'Evaluation' on the site map. Getting Started with Homeschooling has a whole chapter on this subject, with many examples drawn from our own homeschooling life.
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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
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