Homeschool Record Keeping As You Go
Need help with your homeschool record keeping?
Homeschooling is not all about instruction; there is fair amount of administrative work one must do to keep things organized. One of the most important “administrative” tasks you need to do is keep records. Of course, some states have laws requiring homeschools to maintain certain records and present them to government boards or officials. Even if you do not live in one of these states, however, keeping accurate homeschooling records is essential. Colleges, military recruiters, and other programs your student may be involved in post-graduation all make use of high school transcripts to determine eligibility.
Detailed record keeping is also important for your own assessment of your student’s progress. Records help you understand where your student needs to go by evaluating where he has been. They allow you to gauge your student’s educational advancement and make plans for the future.
What to Record?
Although a transcript traditionally consists of simply the name of the course, grade earned and credit awarded, I recommend keeping more detailed homeschooling records in case it is requested down the road. It is not uncommon for colleges to follow up and ask for more detailed information about a homeschool transcript. For example, your records may show that your child took two semesters of Biology with a B+ both semesters. A college may then ask, “In order for us to accept this biology credit, we need to understand what sort of workload was entailed. How many days a week did it meet, what text was assigned, and were there any labs involved?” These details could mean the difference between your child taking or getting out of Biology 101 freshman year.
What should be recorded?
Of course, the most important information is the data you put on a transcript: the course name, semester/year it was taken, and your student’s final grade. However, if you choose to go above and beyond to create a truly comprehensive record, I recommend including the following information:
- General description of the course & objectives
- Where was the course taken? Was it through conventional homeschooling, an online curriculum provider (such as Homeschool Connections), a distance study program (such as Kolbe Academy), a homeschool cooperative, etc.
- Number of hours per week spent on course instruction
- Textbook or other course materials
- Course outline
- Samples of coursework
- Records of major test scores, such as midterms & finals
- Standardized test results (PSAT, SAT, ACT)
- Additional books read, including books read for pleasure
- Immunization records
If you can get a hold of a course syllabus, it is helpful to have that on hand for reference, as usually a syllabus will contain most of this information in one place. For Homeschool Connections courses, most of the above is included in the catalog or on the course page in Moodle.
Record in real time!
I cannot stress this strongly enough: record your information in real time. This means record the information you need while the course is being taught. People have a tragic tendency to overestimate the strength of their memory; they think, “I’ll write this all down at the end of the semester,” or “We’ll do this over summer break.” Sometimes they want to come back and retroactively create four years worth of records when their child is ready to start applying to college. Of course, by then, who is to say with what accuracy you’ll be able to reconstruct your child’s records?
Two reasons you ought to keep your records in real time:
First, if your child participated in a program offered through a third party curriculum provider, the records may no longer be available. Not every program saves records forever; parents emailing a provider for three or four year later for older records may be disappointed to find that the program has not retained them. At Homeschool Connections, we always tell parents to record all of their students’ course information immediately after the course is completed, as Homeschool Connections only maintains student grades in our system for six months.Therefore, it is incumbent upon parents to retrieve this information while it is available in the learning management system.
Second—and probably more pressing—is you will be disappointed at how much you can forget. Do you remember what you had for breakfast three days ago? It can be shockingly hard to try to recall the details of courses from prior years. Personally, when I was desperately trying to reconstruct my eldest daughter’s high school courses before she applied to college, I forgot entire courses she completed. How I wished I’d taken the advice I am giving you now!
If you need help getting your record keeping game up to snuff, Homeschool Connections has put together a comprehensive library for forms and templates for all your recording needs. Check out their resources at https://homeschoolconnections.com/free-homeschool-forms/