This week, I worked on my end-of-year homeschool report for the city. To be honest, I don’t enjoy doing these reports. It is one more thing on my to-do list and by the end of the homeschool year, I am tired and usually feeling more than a little discouraged.
Yet, even though I dread the task, I have learned that there is value in it for me as a homeschool mom. It gives me the chance to look over the year and see that we have, in fact, accomplished much. It allows me to see the growth and progress that have taken place, as well as to acknowledge the areas I need to work on for the coming year. Over the years, I’ve also learned that keeping good records is the key to making this annual task easier.
If you are using traditional curricula, it is fairly easy to keep track of what your child is learning. You will have worksheets, writing samples, etc. to show what a child has done. I find it helpful to date each piece of work my children have completed.
I also keep a notebook which I update each week with a list of what each child accomplished that week. I include outside activities they have taken part in, any field trips we have taken, books they have read, and any educational videos they might have watched. I use a page for each child. One page per week. I group activities under relevant subjects. For example, my daughter takes gymnastics and Irish dance (when not in quarantine). I include both those activities under “gym”. Photos are a great way to keep a record of art projects and science experiments.
If you tend more toward eclectic homeschooling or unschooling, keeping a record is extra important. You may think you are going to remember all the wonderful things your children have done during the year, but trust me, you won’t. It is much easier to have it all written down in one place, whether that be in a physical notebook or an online file, so that you can access it easily. It is also wonderful on those days when you are doubting whether your children are learning anything (and yes, those days will come) to be able to look back and confirm that they are, in fact, making progress.
If you have taken these steps, it is fairly easy to pull together a progress report or portfolio based on the records you have kept. Report cards and transcripts (important for high school students) can be created in a word processing program. It is a good idea to keep a hard copy in a strong box as well as a digital copy saved in multiple places. Your child’s academic records are important. If you have a high school student, those records will be their primary proof of academic achievement and graduation.
You may be required to or may choose to administer standardized tests to your homeschool student at some point in their academic career. Seton Testing Service (www.setontesting.com) offers a number of options. These tests can also be submitted as evidence of academic progress.
End-of-year reporting need not be a burden. If you are struggling to pull something together at the end of this academic year, resolve to keep better records in the coming year. A few minutes a week to write things down or take a few photos will make this process much easier. It also gives you a chance to celebrate all that you and your children have accomplished in the past year!
(Portions of this article were previously published in The Crash Course Guide to Catholic Homeschooling.)