If you’re like most homeschool parents, you have a pile of papers on your desk … everything from a third grade math exam, your high schooler’s ACT results, the toddler’s latest scribble drawing. What do you keep?
You can’t save everything. (Though I heard about a homeschool mom recently who had tried — she had boxes and boxes in the basement of every worksheet, finished textbook, and project her children had ever worked on!) On the other hand, there is the question of what if a day comes when a social services worker might knock on the door and want proof that homeschooling is actually happening.
Thankfully, there are some basic guidelines to help us determine what records to keep permanently, which to keep temporarily, and what we can simply throw out.
What the law requires: In terms of record-keeping, the homeschool law is quite simple. If you are under an NOI, you are required to keep “on a permanent basis” immunization records, assessments (test or evaluation results), and attendance days. Learn more about what these records need to look like here.
(If you are under an independent school, make sure to keep records in accordance with their policies. Learn more about record requirements in the CHEC Independent School here).
Here are the three basic categories of records:
- Permanent Records: The law (assuming you are under an NOI) only requires that you keep attendance data, assessments (test or evaluation results), and immunization records on file for each student. In addition, I would highly recommend keeping a single-binder portfolio for each student of sample work for the year. This is particularly important in high school when you will need these records to create a transcript.
- Temporary Records: Throughout the school year, make sure to keep note of periodic quiz/test grades, papers, or anything else that will be needed to determine final grades for a subject. While this is not as important in elementary school, you will need to calculate a final overall grade for every subject on a high school transcript. Also, keeping artwork, writing samples, etc. can be a fun way for students to go back and see their progress over the year.
- Just Throw It Out! Many parents seem to find art the biggest challenge on knowing what to keep. Of course, you don’t want to squelch your child’s enthusiasm by throwing out their art! But, on the other hand, keeping tubs and tubs of projects just isn’t practical. I would suggest keeping art projects for about a week, allowing the child to help decide 4–5 pieces to keep for the year, and then take pictures of everything else before throwing it away. That way, they know that you still value their work and want to remember it, even if you don’t have room to store it.
Do you have a certain strategy for record keeping? Reply in the comments section below, and let’s keep the conversation going!