Homeschooling Advice: Homeschool Transcripts And Record Keeping

How to keep daily logs for homeschool and document educational achievements and experiences. Developing a portfolio and obtaining homeschool transcripts.

Although regulations and requirements for homeschooling vary from state to state, here is some advice on keeping good homeschool records and obtaining transcripts for a diploma.

There is no need to be intimidated by record keeping for homeschool. Good record keeping is relatively easy and offers you direction, discipline, and the security of feeling organized. Most states require certain documentation each year to assure that an appropriate education has taken place. As a matter of fact, in the state of Pennsylvania those are the magic words. In this state, unless you as a home schooling parent have a teaching degree, your child's educational experience will have to be evaluated each year by someone who does. And that evaluator must ascertain that an appropriate education has taken place. Good record keeping will make the job easier for your evaluator, and it will make you more confident and relaxed.

Building a student portfolio is the final product of your record keeping. This portfolio will document annually the educational experience that has taken place. Here are some suggestions that may or may not be required for your annual portfolio, but will definitely make homeschooling easier. Following the list is a paragraph explaining the purpose of, and how to accomplish each.

1. List your subjects and corresponding textbooks to be used.

2. Write down at least two objectives for each subject

3. Create a daily log to count down the school days and check off accomplishments.

4. Make a daily guide for student assignments.

5. Formulate lesson plans.

Having a list of textbooks and workbooks you intend to use for each subject gives you a sense of direction. Besides that, some states require such a list before granting approval to homeschool each year. So write down all of the textbooks you intend to use as well as periodicals and supplemental literature. Also, during the school year have your student keep a list of books read for pleasure. Log each book by title and author. Reading is a huge part of education - document it!

Make a list of all subjects to be covered and note at least two objectives for each of these subjects. Your objectives can be simple and broad or meticulously detailed as suits your personality. They will serve as a road map, giving you a path to follow and goals to reach.

For example:

Math - to continue progressing in Saxon Math curriculum grade 3, to practice using math skills in everyday situations. (There you have 2 objectives, quite broad, but technically all you need. You can make it more precise by opening your math book and listing the table of contents as your objectives.)

The student's daily log is an important matter. You will be expected to record the number of school days completed as most states have truancy laws. This log can be a home made spreadsheet with columns and rows. Title the spreadsheet: Daily Log Checklist for [Student's Name], Grade [ ], [School Year]. Columns across the top include: Date, Day, and each subject to be studied during the course of the year. Rows are made up of blank boxes under the column titles to be filled in with the date of each school day, the corresponding number of the day in the school year: 1 to 180 and check marks to denote which subjects were covered each day. As in a traditional school experience, not every subject is scheduled every day, so every single box will not be checked every day. It will take about six pages of spreadsheet to accommodate 180 school days. Using 8 ½ x 11 sheets of paper, landscape view, you'll have space for approximately 30 rows (days). 30 rows times 6 pages gives you room to document 180 school days.

Each student should have a daily or weekly planner for school assignments. A small spiral bound notebook works fine, or perhaps you'd like to use a standard three-hole notebook paper so you can include sample pages in your portfolio. You, or the student, should write the day and date at the top of the page and list the day's assignments.

For example:

Math: read lesson 2 and do workbook pages.

English: do page 16 in phonics workbook and lesson 4 in grammar textbook.

Spelling: Test today, see Mom.

Assignments can be checked off when completed, giving the child as much autonomy in the learning process as appropriate for his or her age. Because you have your daily log check list documenting which subjects were studied on which days, it is not necessary to turn in 180 days worth of assignment pages. If your year-end evaluator wants to see how you kept track of daily accomplishments you may offer to show this assignment notebook or just include random pages as examples.

As a homeschool teacher, your daily lesson plans are not subject to anyone's approval. They are for your benefit and your child's benefit. You positively, absolutely must have a plan, but you can record it any way you like. Lesson plans can be loose and sketchy, or rigid and detailed. They can be written in an official lesson planner available at teaching supply stores, or in a loose-leaf notebook, or on scraps of paper, or, though I don't advise it, not written at all.

Along with a list of subjects and objectives, a log of textbooks and reading books, and a daily checklist, here's what else goes into your student portfolio: samples of work and tests from each subject. Add 3-5 worksheets and 3-5 tests per subject, samples of writing assignments and reports, overviews of special projects or fieldtrips, and perhaps some pictures from everyday schooling as well as special events. Make your portfolio a well-organized display of your record keeping and a satisfying review of your child's school year.

As you approach the high school years of homeschool, grades 9-12, you will want to keep record of your student's grades and credits in order to obtain a high school diploma. States have different requirements for graduation. It is important, if you haven't already done so, to get affiliated with a local homeschool group. From this group you can learn state laws concerning diploma programs and procedures to send for an official transcript. Please note that a home made or do-it-yourself transcript is acceptable for college applications and job opportunities. However, to file for financial aide on a state or federal level an official transcript is required.

An official transcript is a form which lists qualifications necessary to receive a high school diploma in your state (compulsory fields of study, numbers of credits, etc.). Each compulsory field of study listed will have a place for you to record the year each class was taken, how many credits were earned, and the grade achieved. Beginning in ninth grade, this transcript will be filled out at year end and signed by the teaching parent as well as the evaluator. Don't lose the transcript: filling it out will be part of your year-end evaluation through all four of the high school years.

Several months before graduation, paperwork should be filed with the state to notify them of your student's intent to graduate. A copy of the transcript, completed through eleventh grade, will serve as evidence that the student has met requirements to this point and is on track to graduate. Save the original transcript as you still need it for twelfth grade. With paper work completed, signed, and sent in along with a small fee, your home schooled student will soon have a diploma in hand.

Homeschooling has become so popular that it is easy to find camaraderie locally or on-line. Take advantage of the help and friendship available to you and your children by contacting a homeschool group in your area.

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