Preview: Homeschool recordkeeping does not need to feel overwhelming. Learn what you need to keep, how to gather them, and how to store them.
A common question I hear from homeschool parents is:
What homeschool records do I need to keep?
The answer largely depends on what records your state requires, but every homeschool should maintain a core set of records. In this article, you will learn what records you should keep, how to gather them, and how to store them. Plus, you will learn how to do this without feeling overwhelmed or buried under mounds of paper. Let’s dive in!
- Why Homeschool Recordkeeping Is Important
- Essential Homeschool Records You Should Maintain
- How To Gather Records Without Being Buried Under Mounds Of Paper
- How To Create And Store Homeschool Records And Work Portfolios
Episode 76 of the All in a Homeschool Day podcast dives deeper into each of these topics.
Why Homeschool Recordkeeping Is Important
The most obvious answer to the question of why you should maintain homeschool records is that your state probably requires you to maintain at least some basic homeschool records. Some states have extensive homeschool recordkeeping requirements, while other states have more lenient requirements. Regardless of what your state requires, you should maintain a record of what you accomplish in your homeschool for several reasons.
- As a professional, you should maintain a record of what you teach to your children. (Yes, “homeschool teacher” is a profession!)
- Maintaining homeschool records faciliates preparing applications in the future.
- Your children deserve to have a record of what they learned.
The homeschool records you need to keep depends on several factors, including:
- Your state’s homeschool law—Always start by checking your state’s requirements to ensure you are keeping what is required by law!
- Your student’s age—The older your child is, the more records you will want to maintain to make preparing a transcript, summer program application, or college application easier.
- Your student’s future plans—All students should have a resume and transcript at a minimum. Some students will need more extensive records if they plan to apply to selective colleges or apply for scholarships.
Essential Homeschool Records You Should Maintain
Listed below are the essential records every homeschool should maintain. Your state may require additional records.
- Yearly Overview—This is a 10,000 foot big picture view of what you will study for the year. I list the subjects, topics, and resources we plan to use.
- Attendance—Keep a list of days of attendance or hours of instruction.
- Community Service Hours
- Books Read
- Field Trips
- Teacher Training
- Weekly lesson plans
- Work samples
- Grades and test scores
Additional Middle School & High School Records To Maintain
Beginning in middle school, we begin updating two additional records:
- Resume Worksheet/Resume
- Transcript Worksheet/Transcript
Resume Worksheet & Resume
On the resume worksheet, we record any information that might be useful to include in a resume or on an application. Include items such as:
- Education Related Activities (e.g. special classes, summer programs, science fair, awards)
- Other Activities (e.g. dance, music, clubs)
- Work Experience
- Volunteer Experience
- Skills Acquired
I helped my daughters set up their initial resume worksheet and then include a periodic reminder on their school task list to update it. Maintaining this record throughout the year makes the daunting task of preparing a resume a little easier. You would be surprised how early your child may need a resume! Both of my daughters needed a resume for extracurricular activities and summer programs as early as middle school.
Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of creating a resume worksheet? Make a copy of this Google Doc to start your student’s resume worksheet.
Transcript Worksheet & Transcript
When my children begin completing high-school-level coursework, we start their transcripts. (Both girls had a couple of high school level classes in eighth grade.) By updating it at the end of each year, we avoid the last-minute rush of preparing it when they need a transcript. My high-school-aged daughter needed a transcript when she applied for a summer program and claimed a good student discount for car insurance.
Before you get overwhelmed looking at this list, keep reading. Next, you’ll learn how to gather and store these records with ease.
How To Gather Records Without Being Buried Under Mounds Of Paper
Homeschool recordkeeping doesn’t have to feel overwhelming! The easiest way to maintain homeschool records is to make recordkeeping part of your planning process by setting up the skeleton of your yearly records when you create your homeschool plan for the upcoming year.
I set up the following forms in my school planner at the beginning of each year to make updating them throughout the year easier.
- Yearly Overview
- Community Service Hours
- Books Read
- Field Trips
- Teacher Training
You can update these records each week during your weekly planning time.
Options For Gathering Work Samples
I gather work samples throughout the year to avoid scrambling to find them at the end of the year. I do this in three ways.
- Three-ring binder—As they complete school work, we place it in the appropriate subject tab of their school binder.
- Scrapbook Storage Envelope—We store narrations, performance programs, and anything else that is a loose piece of paper in a scrapbook storage envelope. I maintain a separate envelope for each student. By placing the newest items in the back, they are automatically sorted chronologically.
- Photos—Snapping photos is an easy way to maintain a record of school work and activities. I snap pictures throughout the week of activities, evensts, projects, and special moments I want to remember. When I transfer them to my computer, I tag them with the current school year (e.g. 21-22 School). At the end of the year, it is easy to view all of the photos tagged with the current school year so I can print them.
At the end of the year, I gather all of the work samples and keep a few from the beginning, middle, and end of the year to see their progress. I also gather anything in the scrapbook envelope and print off photos from the year.
How To Create And Store Homeschool Records And Homeschool Portfolios
Before creating a school portfolio, you should consider the audience. Different audiences will want to see records and work samples presented differently. Some possible audiences include:
- Government officials
- Special program application committees
- Scholarship committees
You will probably need to present records for multiple audiences. You may be able to maintain an official record for most audiences and a different one for posterity’s purposes.
I discovered the hard way that if you toss everything into a box and tell yourself that you’ll get around to creating the school portfolio someday, that day rarely arrives. I had to take one summer to catch up on four years of school records when I did this! Now, I gather all of the work samples for the year, print off photos during the summer, and try to prepare the previous year’s school portfolio before the beginning of the new school year.
Options To Create A Homeschool Portfolio
Portfolios are not required but do provide a nice way to see what your student has accomplished through the years. There are many options for creating a homeschool portfolio. First, consider what you need to submit to satisfy your state’s requirements. Second, consider how much time and effort you want to spend creating the portfolio.
Options you can consider for creating a portfolio include:
- 3-ring binder with clear sheet protector pages
- Scrapbook or photo album with clear sheet protector pages and photo insert pages
- Accordion file or scrapbook storage envelope
- Digital or physical scrapbooking pages
- Digital slideshow or movie
There is no one right way to create a portfolio. Some people love making it pretty and an heirloom keepsake. Others prefer to get it done as quickly as possible and move on. I’ve done both depending on how much time I had and how creative I was feeling. It’s okay to bounce between the two approaches. Make it work for you!
Do you have questions about homeschooling?
Watch the FREE Homeschool 101 Workshop. It’s an on-demand workshop you can watch at your convenience.
Ready to start homeschooling but not sure how?
Check out the Homeschool Roadmap. It walks you through establishing your homeschool with confidence and joy, one step at a time.