PLANT, Inc. Blog
Encouraging Parent Led Education
by Mona Koerner
I often hear homeschool moms anxiously questioning whether their homeschool record keeping is adequate. The State of New Mexico requires homeschoolers to track the number of days of school and keep records of immunizations. I have a pile of yearly lesson planners where I have diligently recorded everything we did for 180 days each year. However, these records never inform my homeschool. In fact, I have never looked back on them (until now). It really doesn't help me to know that on October 29, 2013 we did: Daily Paragraph Editing, read 2 pages of Astronomy, wrote a paragraph on Harriet Tubman, practiced multiplication tables with playing cards, did pages 50,51 in Singapore 5A math curriculum, memorized AWANA scriptures, watched chapter 3 of Latin for Children DVD and had a violin lesson. While this may be what the state requires I submit to you that this is not the only kind of recordkeeping we should be doing. We didn't start home educating to please the state so we should develop recordkeeping systems that are consistent with why we are home educating: a desire to raise a kind, generous, thinking person.
By looking back through the yearbooks we can see how much we actually do in a year (a lot!). It's encouraging. I can also see how she has grown and matured. I see how her understanding of the world is maturing through her art and models. I can evaluate her progress in English by comparing penmanship, spelling and grammar in her notes and writing. I can witness her being kind and loving or excited and proud of her accomplishments.
The other important record I like to keep is videos. Videos can capture even more than pictures. For example you will be able to see how your child's motor skills are progressing, how oral communication skills are improving, how knowledge is being processed and assimilated. You can store your videos by year on a thumb drive - they are harder to get out to show friends but still useful for informing your homeschool and enjoyable to watch. You can retain videos similar to the list of still-life pictures. Especially important is to have the student narrate their science experiments, capture their performances to see how they have grown over time, require memorization and recitation of poems, scripture, or speeches. Capture their sports achievements but also informal interactions with friends, which reveal the kind of person, they are becoming.
My biggest regret with this aspect of my homeschool recordkeeping is that I have not been as intentional about it as I have about the list of school days I keep for the state. I wish I had more pictures of the everyday (those are my favorites). I wish had I a better system of organizing homeschool pictures as I take them (something as simple as putting all homeschool related pictures into a folder weekly) so that putting together the books at the end of the year would be easier.
Captions within the yearbook can be helpful to summarize all that you have accomplished in the year. For example, you can include a list of books read or projects completed with picture proof! So while we may need to keep our list of lesson books for the state, I encourage you not to stop there but to be intentional about recording the joys and sorrows, the highs and lows, the growth in wisdom and stature that your home education is achieving. And I pray, that doing so will be an encouragement that this hard thing called homeschooling is a worthy endeavor.
Mona Koerner home educates her daughter and is a founding member of Parent Led Academic Network Team, Inc.
PLANT, Inc. Blog is written by local parent educators and supporters of parent led education.