I think those are bad words in the homeschooling vocabulary. Too much time, too much money, too much effort is wasted on record keeping when the goal of homeschooling is to be learning how to learn. The burden of record keeping often hinders that purpose.
Some of my beloved readers live in states in which record keeping is mandatory. So you must take everything in this post with a grain of salt. But still hear me out. I am in your corner, too. The principles I am setting forth will apply to you as well, I promise. I am trying to be a blessing here, not a burden.
Actually, I want to lift the burden.
And watch it roll away down the hill. Whee!
First, some history.
Remember, I am a homeschool graduate. Back in the late 1980s and early 90s, it was barely legal to home educate in Michigan, where I grew up. Parents like mine joined legal organizations like Home School Legal Defense and hid inside the house during school hours and named their “very small, very private” school. And kept a lot of paper work and records. A lot of paper work and records.
Our basement was full of boxes and boxes of papers. Every paper I ever completed was carefully graded, filed, and boxed away, “just in case.” My grades were carefully tallied, my lessons were carefully planned, my curriculum meticulously documented. The paperwork is mind-boggling. It was mostly motivated by fear. At any time, a government official could demand to see “proof” of education, and there it was … piled high to the ceiling in several square feet of office file boxes. *shudder*
Over a decade ago, my father took me down to the basement and asked me if I wanted any of my papers. I stood, aghast, and beheld the mountain of boxes. NO! There was no way I wanted to truck all that back in my van. I wonder how long it would take to burn, though?
Back to the Future
My turn to be the homeschool parent, and I did what I knew. I bought a lesson plan book, I graded papers, and I kept files. It worked well, as long as I had only one child. I could even keep up when I had two. But then there were three. I looked askance at number four growing older. There was paper everywhere. And the lesson plans took so long … so stinkin’ long …
Then a teacher friend of mine asked me a startling question.
Why do you make lesson plans?
Why, indeed? Don’t I know that the next day we do the next math lesson? And another day, another grammar sheet? Really, what is the rocket science there? I took a bold move … I tried no lesson plans for a week.
It was the happiest week of my homeschooling that far.
Then, I decided to try something even bolder. After we corrected a math paper … I threw it in the recycling. *gasp!*
I felt the weight of the world lift.
The new standard
So no more lesson plans for me! Each child knows what to do every day in his core subjects: math, grammar, and logic (one page or lesson in each). History, Science, and Unit Studies we learn together. When we start something new, I study the first few chapters of the book first to make sure I understand where we will be going.
No records, either. My beloved state of Texas does not require anything, so I am not going to place an extra burden upon myself. This is the advice I give mothers who ask me the record-keeping question:
Do the absolute minimum record-keeping your state requires. Put no extra burden upon yourself. Enjoy learning with your children, and they will enjoy learning, too.
This doesn’t mean “never keep track of anything.” I like to journal. Some moms like to keep notebooks. Do what you enjoy.
What about high school transcripts?
High school transcripts are really nothing to fear. Colleges and universities are quite accustomed to accepting home educated students by now, and filling out the paper work necessary is not rocket science.
When and if a transcript is necessary, you can simply make one or use a free downloadable form. Fill in the subjects studied, the credits (if necessary) and the grade earned (if necessary). When the child is in late-understanding stage (logic stage) is a good time to find a transcript form you like and begin saving some info on it for later use.