Saturday, September 27, 2008

Record Keeping

Yesterday's Heart of the Matter theme was record keeping. Do you keep a grade book? Does your state require attendance sheets or a portfolio? What are some of the best methods of organization that you have found to keep up with all of the school records for the year? Are you an organizational expert or do you find it to be a hassle? What about online forms--can you recommend some good sites to others? Share with us your greatest successes and your greatest flops in this area! To see what other people do for record keeping, check out Heart of the Matter.

Our homeschooling laws in Washington state are really easy. We are required to have our children tested or assessed annually and we are required to keep those tests (and the child's immunization records) for their permanent file. No other records are required and we are not required to show those records to anyone unless they transfer to public school.

Being enrolled in CVA, however, I must write a monthly progress review. In these reviews, I'm to "comment on each subject area, giving information on progress by rating or grading system of choice, a brief description of goals met, progress noted, and any areas of or reasons for difficulty." (taken from their handbook) Basically, I write a little bit about what we've done in the past month. Here's an except of one subject from Mika's latest review:

COURSE TITLE: Ancient History
We began our history studies with an introduction to archaeology. We covered the earliest nomads and beginning of farming in the Fertile Crescent. We learned about the old kingdom of ancient Egypt and how it was unified to King Narmer, the polytheistic beliefs of ancient Egypt, and hieroglyphs and cuneiform. We constructed and painted sugar-cube pyramids.

It's pretty simple. I probably write and share more than most homeschoolers using the program but I don't mind as I receive benefit from writing these reviews.

One benefit I get from writing these reviews is the accountability factor. I'm more likely to get school done if I have to report what we've done. Before CVA, I had a tendency to skip subjects or skip the whole day...a lot. Usually we took two to three months off for Christmas and another three months off for summer. It's amazing that my kids learned anything! My husband likes not having to prod me to do school.

Another benefit I get from writing these reviews is the assurance that my kids are accomplishing something. Having to stop and write what we've learned about and done reminds me of what we have done. It goes a long way towards easing the worry and doubt I sometimes feel about the job I'm doing as a homeschool teacher.

The last benefit I get from writing these reviews is record keeping. Not only to I save these reviews to my computer but I also print a copy out for a three ring binder that I keep for each student. In that binder, I place a copy of their test results, the monthly reviews that I write, writing samples (especially for Mika, my writer), and a few samples of work from each subject. If I ever do run into problems I'll have records detailing everything we've covered, the field trips we've taken, the projects we've completed, some of the books we've read, their test results, and some samples of their work from the year. I rest much easier knowing I have this proof of what we've done readily available.

If we ever quit CVA, I'll continue writing these reviews for my own records. They've worked very well for me.

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