Record Keeping for Eclectic Homeschoolers and Unschoolers
Back in the day when I first started homeschooling, most of us were eclectic homeschoolers or unschoolers. Catholic homeschooling was very unstructured with limited resources available to us. There were few home study programs and little published Catholic homeschool curriculum. Most of us lived at the library, relied on our homeschooling friends, and found educational value in everyday life.
We were also still close to the days when homeschooling was illegal. Only a few years earlier friends lived in fear of being arrested. So, we chronicled everything we did, lest we ever be challenged on how we were educating our children.
Homeschooling has a different face today. It’s been decades since homeschooling was illegal in the U.S. Additionally, there are so many curriculum choices that it can make a new homeschooler’s head spin. More homeschoolers than ever are signing up with accredited schools and utilizing full programs.
Yet, there are still some of us who prefer to take a more free-range approach, picking and choosing resources from a variety of sources (including online classes with Homeschool Connections). Others are choosing to unschool. Unschooling means a lot of different things to a lot of different people (see Suzy Andre’s book Homeschooling with Gentleness). It can range from completely banning textbooks to simply allowing children a say in their curriculum, and everything in between. Wherever you’re at on the unschooling spectrum, here are some tips for record-keeping.
While homeschooling may be legal in all 50 states, some do have intrusive regulations and require some kind of record-keeping. Or, perhaps, you just want to keep a chronicle of your homeschooling experience. This can be challenging for the eclectic homeschooler or the unschooler because typically they are not using conventional classes with grades and transcripts. Unschooling record-keeping, therefore, requires an approach as eclectic as unschooling itself.
Here are some ideas for record-keeping in an eclectic or unschooling environment…
Use your camera!
Build a cool LEGO creation? Take a picture. Visit the natural history museum? Take a picture. Exploring Gettysburg National Park? Pictures. Is your teen flopped on the couch reading Dickens? Picture. Learning to lay tile in the bathroom? Pictures. Pictures, pictures, pictures.
Journaling About Their Lives
When you journal, you are effectively keeping a running record of your homeschooling adventures. There are many ways to journal:
Photo journals. Create a photo album dedicated to chronicling your homeschool.
Scrapbooking. Scrapbooking is a fun activity that combines crafting and documentation. It involves taking books with blank pages and adding photos, memorabilia, journaling, and embellishments. It is an exercise in creative record keeping—and you can do it together with your kids! If your kids are completing traditional “assignments”, doing book reports, or anything like that, include sample work in the scrapbook.
Blogging. There are many homeschooling blogs these days; they are one of the most popular ways for homeschoolers to share information and experiences. Consider blogging about the family’s adventures! Besides serving as a valuable record, this will also help you network with other homeschooling families.
Using a Planner or Calendar
Now, if you are a homeschooler on the more eclectic/unschooling side of the spectrum, you probably do not rely too heavily on planners and calendars. You probably take a more intuitive approach. Even so, that doesn’t mean you can’t utilize planners and calendars for record-keeping purposes. You can still follow an unscripted, intuitive approach to your homeschooling, just writing activities down after the fact in your planner or on a calendar. Then you can still build a daily record of what you’ve been up to.
Pinterest is a really neat app. Pinterest is an image sharing and social media service designed to enable saving and discovery of information on the internet using images, and on a smaller scale, animated GIFs and videos. It uses something called pinboards. These boards are an excellent way to digitally record cool things you’ve done, read, seen, and explored.
Use Homeschool Connections’ Record Keeping Forms
Homeschool Connections offers a variety of forms to help you document your studies. We have all sorts of record-keeping documents, library logs, reading journals, and more. Check out our record-keeping forms at https://homeschoolconnections.com/free-homeschool-forms/
Whatever level of organization you choose for your homeschooling, there are ways to document your progress that are not only useful but fun and creative!
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