Thursday, October 30, 2008

Homeschooling FAQ: 6 Kinds of Record Keeping

Homeschooling, for those who are asking, is legal. As of now, all fifty states have allowed homeschooling and have provided laws for its implementation. They have different laws though, and some of the states require that you can show some kind of records to show that you’re homeschooling your children.

There are a number of ways you can keep record of your children’s progress and here are some of them.

1. Daily Lesson Plans

Daily lesson plans show what subjects you have taught to your children. They will also show the way your children’s lessons are progressing (from basic to intermediate to advanced).

These lesson plans could be important for school officials to learn what could be lacking from your schooling and in what area they could help you with. Teachers could also help you with lessons that could be a good primer for the next and more advanced level of any subject.

2. Time Spent For Each Subject

Time spent for each subject is an indication of what subjects you have focused on and what subject your children might be having some problem absorbing. Although this is not an accurate basis, this could be used to understand problem areas and reasons why your children are having an easy (or tough) time on their subjects.

Even the states with the most relaxed requirements require 180 days, so it is important to be able to demonstrate that you have done this.

3. Diaries and Journals Updated Regularly

Regular diary and journal entries of your children’s achievements (or failures) are a good way to keep a record of your homeschooling. This can prove helpful in two ways. The first is you can keep track of what areas your children have already studied. This will prove beneficial in monitoring your children’s progress with their lessons.

The second way it can help is that it will help you in knowing where your children are having an easy time and where they need more time and attention. This is important so you could focus on one subject if you think your children need it.

4. Grades

It is simple to create or copy a test or exercise from one of the books your children use. Results from these exams can be compiled and recorded. These, just like any other records, can be proof of your children’s achievements. Grades are more concrete records of your children’s progress and concrete proof if someone wants to look at your children’s records.

Grades also give your children a sense of achievement. This will help in building their characters and giving a boost in their egos. Failures can also help, too. You just have to handle their feelings carefully and make sure that they realize that they can make their failures as stepping stones to success.

5. Portfolios

Portfolios are a collection of your children’s works, from their exercises to their tests and anything that they have done while schooling. For your younger children, these could include the first time they write a letter or the whole alphabet. Included in their portfolio are their mathematical computations and other exams. For your older children, this could include pictures from recent field trips to museums and other historical trips. Other things that could be included are science tests and experiments and, if possible, a picture of your children’s science projects.

6. Standardized Tests

A standardized test is usually proctored by an authorized tester. Many home school groups use Bob Jones University Press to obtain Stanford Achievement Tests, and Bob Jones certifies testers through a training program. An authorized tester could also be a certified teacher. These tests will show what subjects your children are having any problems with. Results from these exams will not really be a gauge of the success of your homeschooling. Children who do not do well in standardized tests are not thrown out of public school, and you will not be forced to stop home schooling if your child does not do well. These tests serve mainly as a diagnostic test for YOU - they will let you know what subjects your children are having some difficulty with, and where there are gaps in their knowledge because you have not covered the subject.

Another reason is to gauge your children’s abilities and knowledge compared with people their age. These will help in knowing whether your children are advanced, late or at just the right level in respect to other children. This could help you in deciding what your next approach to your children’s lessons you will take. The only caveat would be not to become obsessed with comparing your children to the children in public schools for whom these tests were designed. Studies have shown that home schooled children perform at higher levels than public school children on almost every level.

There are umbrella programs and online academies that do a lot of the recordkeeping and storage for you (and some of the teaching as well!) and recordkeeping software that will help take some of that burden off you. Depending on which state you live in, you may be called upon to "prove" that you are homeschooling. Chances are that it will never happen. But if you are, you will be glad you took the time to keep good records of your child's progress so that you can avoid a protracted hassle with your school district officials.

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