Keeping Records for Our Younger Children
We have three children and we keep records differently for them. For our younger children, every day they are learning. If I kept every piece of paper they used on a daily basis to homeschool and learn, we would have a flood of paper. Now that our younger son is entering second grade, he has decided he wants me to grade his work - at least his math work - and supply him with a number and letter grade. So for the past several weeks, I have been grading his math worksheets, checking them for accuracy, and then writing down a grade. I even pulled out my stamps from when I was a teacher to add a 'good job' to his homeschool work.
Most of the work that our younger children complete is done with me sitting with them or near them so I know right away whether or not they are getting questions wrong. And when they are working online with programs like CTCMath, they are given immediate feedback as to whether or not they get the problems correct. I can even download reports from some online homeschooling programs so I can keep copies of their records from that program after the subscription ends.
Keeping Records for Our High School Student
Our high schooler has the intention to start his own business after graduation. So, our methods of record-keeping are a bit different than if he had the intention to go onto a two-year or four-year college. He attended one year of public high school, so I have his transcript from his freshman year. I can take those grades and incorporate those into our record-keeping program so that I can calculate out his entire high school career's grades. We are using Applecore through our SchoolhouseTeachers.com membership to keep track of our high schooler's course grades as well as to calculate his transcript.
The first step I take in keeping records for our high schooler is to input his grades into an excel spreadsheet. I use one sheet for each course and I have been putting classwork/daily tasks in one column, quizzes in a second column, and tests and projects in a third column. When I calculate his grades, I have been counting his tests and projects as worth more than the daily work he completes. After I calculate the final grade for each course, I use a chart to find the letter grade and then record this information into Applecore. From there, the program will create a report card or transcript for me.
Many new-to-homeschooling families may be very concerned about grades and record keeping. I think it is important, as I mentioned earlier, that you follow any state requirements. But beyond those requirements, I think it is more important that our children actually understand the information than they have all As or Bs. Yes, if they understand the information, they are more likely to have 'good grades,' but I do not think they should be penalized too harshly for their mistakes. For example, we are keeping more grades for our teen as I will create a transcript for him in case he wishes to go onto higher education. However, I make sure that his regular work – what might be considered classwork and homework if he attended public school – is not weighted as much as work he completes as quizzes or tests. Those are the opportunities he has to demonstrate his knowledge—through these written documents as well as the conversations we have about the different topics he is studying.
Keeping records first depends upon your state requirements and then depends on what you feel is important for documentation. In the younger years, that may mean a lot of photographs of projects (that get too big to store forever) or boxes full of artwork. As your children get older, you might find that more and more of their work is saved digitally. I love that there are so many options for keeping records while we homeschool.