Homeschool Record Keeping- How to Save Time!
How do I keep track of all these assignments, papers, attendance, reading lists, and grades every year? What’s the best way to organize all of it? Homeschool record keeping doesn’t have to be complicated. With the right tools and a simple plan, you can make this part of your student’s everyday habits, and it will automatically be done for you.
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In 2014 my son had just entered high school, and at the beginning of the year, I told myself I was going to stay on top of things and really make sure I kept track of all his grades so I could start creating his transcripts.
I started off the first few weeks doing okay, but with three children ranging from preschool to high school, I quickly fell off the bandwagon. The end of the year rolled around and there I was with no grades recorded and still some end of the year papers needing to be checked.
I spend at least a month (maybe more) of our summer break going through all his paper searching for the tests and other papers I had corrected but didn’t actually assign a grade to. Have you been there? Please tell me I’m not the only one who has done this???
I had papers everywhere and lists of grades in columns to separate them for each of the 9 weeks. As I tallied each up, I had numbers written all over the place. I also needed to create a professional looking report card because he needed it for a discount on his car insurance. It was a mess!
There needed to be a better way. That’s when I developed the system I use today, and I was able to keep up with his remaining high school years and easily complete a set of transcripts for him at the end. AND- I got to have my summer break!
This is article is part three in a series I have written about helping your children to become more independent and in the process, freeing up some of your time during school. Using my system of record keeping is another step in the method I developed.
As a portfolio reviewer for my state, I have watched parents stress over the review at the end of the year. My system will make this process easier and less stressful for you. If you have not read the other two parts, you can find them below:
The best method I had found to organize all my records is using a big D-ring binder or a disc system notebook (which I will explain below). I let my kids pick out a color or design they like, and that is their binder for the year. If you get a binder that has a clear pocket like this one, they can even create a unique cover to slip inside, and you can label the spine, so you know who each binder belongs to if you have more than one child.
My newest and favorite option for making a binder is with the disc system. You can find out more about them here to see what ours looks like, as well as the best products we have found to make them. My kids have really enjoyed using these, and once you have the necessary materials, they are very easy to reuse each year.
I have several reasons I like a binder:
- Easy to store on a shelf
- Able to rearrange papers easily
- Can quickly insert or remove papers
- Holds an entire year’s worth of records
- Sturdy enough to be used for several years before needing to be replaced (D-Ring). The disc system just needs a new cover each year.
- Make organization simple by using dividers with tabs
- Easy to take to a portfolio review
Categories for Homeschool Record Keeping in Your Binder
There are specific categories you will want to divide your binder into to keep it organized.
I like to make a separate tab for each of the subjects my child will be doing throughout the year. Any looseleaf papers that are completed and corrected will be placed in the binder behind the correct subject.
The typical subjects we include are:
You can choose to make a language arts category and include spelling, grammar, and reading in one place or separate them. A lot will depend on the curriculum you use. If you have one that incorporates everything, then it will make sense to keep them all together. However, if you teach each subject independently, then you may want to store them separately. I choose to keep them separate because they are done individually and it makes it easier for me to glance through the work to see what has been completed in each one.
Homeschool Attendance Sheet
Depending on your state , you may or may not be required to keep track of attendance. You also may be required to have school for a certain number of days. If that is the case, you will want to track your children’s attendance throughout the year.
I find it easiest to keep a yearly attendance sheet that my child checks off each day. I have created a super simple one-page sheet that can be marked every day and will also let you keep track of the types of days, such as field trips, homeschool co-op, vacation, holiday, or sick.
You can download my attendance sheet with the other homeschool record keeping printables at the bottom of this page.
Homeschool Grade Tracker
Keeping track of grades may be necessary for portfolio reviews, but also for the high school years when you will need to make transcripts. If I don’t have a system in place, it’s very easy for things to get lost in the shuffle and not keep up with it.
This happened to me in the early years and what a mess! I would have to spend several weeks in the summer trying to go back through all the papers and tests and write down all the grades for each subject. Then I would have to total everything up to create a report card and then transfer them into the transcripts for my son. Not how I want to spend my summer!
I learned the hard way, and if you follow this method I developed, you won’t be in the same situation. Storing grade tracking forms right inside the student binder is the easiest way to keep up with it.
As each paper or test is graded, the student needs to go and record the grade on the sheet behind the corresponding subject tab. I have included this grade form in the homeschool record keeping printables you can at the bottom of the page.
At the end of each 9-weeks, all you have to do is look at that sheet and tally everything up to get a grade. At the end of the year, you have each quarter’s grades that can be totaled for a cumulative grade. It’s really that simple!
One of the things I ask my parents to keep track of for a portfolio review is a list of books their child has read. Instead of trying to sit down at the end of the year and brainstorm all the books your child has read (I have done this!), keep a reading log in the binder instead.
Each time a book is finished, let your child write down the title, author, and date on the log. This list can include read alouds, not just books read independently. This is especially true for younger children who can’t read on their own yet. You can find a reading log in my set of record keeping printables as well.
Homeschool Assignment Chart
A homeschool assignment chart plays a vital part in my homeschool. The simple explanation is that it’s a chart your child will use to write down the work he needs to get done each day. But it’s way more than that! It’s a fantastic tool that trains your child to take responsibility for his learning and trains him to become more independent. And the bonus is that as he fills it out, he is creating records you can use for a portfolio review. What a time saver!
Homeschool Curriculum Guide
One of the key components to helping my children become independent learners is creating a homeschool curriculum guide. This is what your child will use to complete his homeschool assignment chart.
A homeschool curriculum guide is a list I created that has all of the assignments for each subject I would like my child to do during the year. I keep this list inside the binder in a section all by itself for my student to refer to and fill in the assignment chart.
It’s definitely worth reading about this if you would like to learn a fantastic way to keep records, but also how to help your child become more independent and free up your time during the day.
You might be wondering if younger kids can do this. While they may not be able to fill in assignment charts on their own, they certainly can check off an attendance sheet and write down a grade (if you keep them in the early years). Start with a few basics and spend some time training them. As they get older, they will already be in the habit of marking information in their binder. Then you can add the extra steps needed to help them record everything.
The younger you can start these skills the better. You will be surprised how quickly children can learn to work on their own in certain subjects. Obviously in the very early years, your child is going to need direct instruction for things like reading and writing, but by second or third grade, he is going to be ready to take on some subjects by himself, and you will have already been preparing him for it.
Online Homeschool Record Keeping
If you are not the type of person that enjoys using pen and paper, and you prefer to keep all these records on the computer, I have listed two great options below:
You can keep track of everything in these online planners from daily lesson plans, field trips, attendance, report cards, and more. If you take the time to teach your child how to use the program, you can have him help record all of this information on his own just as he would with my written method.
Children are very good with technology, and most likely it will be a breeze for him to figure it out. The only difference is it’s going to add the extra step of having to go to the computer instead of having it right in front of him.
Putting it all together- How to Make This System Work
Once you have bought or created your binder and organized it, you need to walk your child through the steps of using it. It’s best to put everything in the order it will be used each day.
Here’s the suggested order for the sections in your binder:
1. Homeschool Attendance Sheet– Place this first, so he can immediately mark off his attendance each day.
Yearly Calendar– I like to print off a yearly calendar and include it for reference. This can be kept right behind the attendance sheet in the same section.
2. Homeschool Assignment Chart– You can print out a year’s worth of these and store them in the binder, so you don’t have to print or copy them every week. He can take one out and turn to the curriculum guide to write down all his assignment for the day. When it’s filled out, it can be put back in the binder to refer to or left out on the table (whichever is most comfortable). At the end of the week, it should be placed behind the blank charts for storage.
3. Curriculum Guide– This is the list of lessons for each subject for the year. You child will refer to this each day when filling out his assignment chart.
4. Individual Subjects-This will be where they keep their loose papers and also record their grades. Each subject will have its own section.
Grade Sheet– Place one at the beginning of every subject section, so it’s easy to find. If it’s a subject like spelling where you may have a test each week, you may need to print several of them to list all the grades for the year.
5. Reading Log– You may need several of these too if you have an avid reader.
We have way too many things to do every day. Homeschool record keeping is just one more item to add to the list, and it’s a pretty big one. Our children are capable of putting papers in a binder, filling out a chart, writing down grades, or checking off attendance for us. They also benefit from this by gaining organizational skills along the way.
There is no reason for you to have to do all of this yourself when a child is quite capable of doing it for you. As he gets into the habit or recording this information, it will become part of his everyday routine. Then your child will become the homeschool record keeper, freeing you up to focus on teaching. How easy is that?
Do you use your own system of record keeping? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
If you would like the assignment charts as well, you can find them HERE. They are in a separate file because there is an option to edit them on the computer with your own custom subjects before printing them out.
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