Homeschool Record Keeping: What You Need to Know

Published:
May 24, 2022

Sarah Shelton

Contributor:
Sarah Shelton

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Keeping track of homeschool records can be a fearful and overwhelming thing for a new homeschool parent. Learn how homeschool record keeping can become a part of your homeschool routine and how to do it in a way that works best for your family.

homeschool record keeping: what you need to know text with image of pen and planner.

Homeschool Record Keeping

Homeschool record keeping is just part of the job of being a homeschool parent. You need to make sure that you keep records of your homeschooling in case you ever need to show them to authorities.

It is also an important thing to have in case you decide to enroll your children in a public school. Not only is homeschool recordkeeping required, but can make your life much easier should you need them on-the-fly.

Homeschool Organization

Keeping homeschooling records is one of the organizational aspects of homeschooling, much like your homeschool schedule. Staying on top of homeschool organization is a good idea and can make life as a homeschool parent so much easier and efficient.

Also, it’s important to have records for the high school years to use for college applications and transcripts.

How do homeschoolers keep records?

The best way to keep track of your homeschool records is by using a homeschool planner.  It’s easy way for homeschool parents to keep track of what subjects were completed on what days. It also serves as a great homeschool field trip and extra curricular activity tracker to look back on at the end of the year.

A high school student can keep track of their school work and their own records. It is an important life skill for students to learn to keep track of their progress and to practice keeping records.

You may also choose to keep paper copies as well as digital copies as you track of homeschool attendance and grades.

How do you record homeschool grades?

You can record your homeschool grades in your planner, and you can also use a homeschool report card template to keep track of grades throughout the homeschool year.

Some curricula have a grading rubric that you can follow to calculate your student’s grades at the end of the year. You can also use a simple grading sheet that goes into your child’s homeschool binder or portfolio.

What is a homeschool portfolio?

A homeschool portfolio visually documents the progress that your child has made throughout the school year. By keeping samples of work from the beginning, middle and end of the homeschool year anyone who thumbs through it can see that your child is learning and progressing.

Normally you will keep the sample of work in a large 3-ring binder that has subjects separated by binder tabs. It also includes other records such as attendance, grades, test scores and other extra curricular activities. You can use a homeschool portfolio checklist to make sure your portfolio includes everything it needs to.

Am I required to keep a homeschool portfolio?

Homeschoolers are required to keep a homeschool portfolio, but the laws may vary from state-to-state. Make sure you check your state’s homeschool requirements. Just like some states require you to keep track of attendance, many states require you to keep a homeschool portfolio for at least 2 years, on top of getting a portfolio review or annual assessment.

When you have a lot of children this can be a lot of binders to store. We like to use milk crates. You can store about 4-6 binders in a milk crate and put them under the bed or on the top of a bookshelf.

What should my homeschool portfolio look like?

As long as your portfolio contains all the homeschool records required by your state, it is up to you on how it looks. It can be kept in a file folder-style bin or a 3-ring binder. Portfolios can be decorated like a scrapbook keepsake. They can professional or minimalistic with only what is needed by state law and nothing extra.

Binders and Tabs

A 2-3 inch 3-ring binder is the perfect size for a portfolio. Make sure you get a nice, heavy duty one with a clear cover. You can print out nice professional looking binder covers, or your children can color and create their own.

There should be a section for each subject separated by binder tabs. You can also use folders or dividers with pockets and tabs. The pockets can be used to store artwork or things that you may not want to have hole punch.

Electronic Homeschool Portfolios

An electronic homeschool portfolio is a great way for families that want to lighten their carbon footprint and not have so much stuff. Create a folder on your computer and use sub folders for each subject. Scan your student’s work and save it in the appropriate sections, like you would in a physical binder.

Many families choose this method and email a teacher their portfolio to review at home. It saves you a trip out of the house as well as the time it takes to sort and hole punch everything.

Portfolio Bins

A portfolio bin is a way to store your homeschool records more like in a filing cabinet. All you need is a plastic file folder bin, file folders, and hanging sections that set inside. Then you can fill it up slowly throughout the school year by tearing out pages from your student’s workbooks or curriculum and storing it in the appropriate folders.

This can save time and extra work by not having to hole punch and put everything into a binder. It also saves space. A large bin can even store year’s worth of work for different grades so you have one box, instead of multiple 3-ring binders.

Homeschool Record Keeping

A homeschool portfolio is a huge part of homeschool record keeping. Let’s go over the details and kinds of records you need to keep in your homeschool.

What should be in a homeschool portfolio?

Your homeschool portfolio should contain thorough records, including a table of contents, overview of subjects, your homeschool schedule, activities log, reading log, field trips, work samples, and all your legal documents.

Let’s briefly go over each component of your homeschool portfolio.

Table of Contents

A great way to show what work your child has completed is by keeping the table of contents from your children’s school books. Just simply tear out the table of contents and keep it in the front of that subject in your binder. This shows a scope and sequence of what your child has learned and done in that subject.

Overview of Subjects Studied and Curriculum Used

Along with the table of contents you can include a list of all of the curriculum used and course of study as well as course descriptions. If you have written or printed lesson plans for those subjects you can include those as well. If you have been good at homeschool curriculum organization, this should be a breeze!

Homeschool Schedule

Each portfolio should have a printed copy of your homeschool schedule. If you do not follow a rigid schedule, that’s okay. You can just list the days you do school and what subjects are done daily. You can use a homeschool hours log printable if you are required to keep attendance and track your hours.

Activities Log

An activities log is just a simple sheet of paper that records any educational or extra curricular activities that your student has completed for the year. You can include any teams like speech and debate club or mock trial, community theater, music or dance lessons, sports etc.

Reading Log

A portfolio should include a list of books that your child has read during the home school year. You can create your own using a reading log printable that your child had filled out, or you can print the reading lists from your curriculum.

Field Trips and Learning Adventures

Field trips can be some of the best and most memorable learning experiences for your children. Kids can learn so much on a field trip. Many field trips can take an entire day and that can count as a school day. Have your child fill out a field trip worksheet for each field trip you participate in so you can add it to your portfolio.

Other learning adventures you may want to document would be if you had a special guest come to a homeschool day, or you had a community learning day you were involved in.

Field Trip Worksheet Templates and Logs

Lesson Samples from Beginning, Middle & End

A good rule of thumb is to include some work samples from the beginning of the year, the middle of the year and then end of the school year to show your student’s progress.

Writing Samples

Writing samples are an important part of a portfolio. May states require you to include samples of work, which includes writing. Make sure to save some of the best and even not so good papers. This is a great way to show progression!

Achievements and Awards

Keeping records of achievements and awards are a great way for your homeschool student to show off what they have accomplished throughout the year. Did they enter an art or writing contest and win a ribbon or award? Do they have extra curricular activities that they have excelled in? Make sure to include these into their portfolio.

List of Extra Curricular Activities

Extracurricular activities are an amazing thing to keep in a portfolio. This will also help you at the end of the year to record what your student has done for high school transcripts. You can also keep track of field trips that you have taken.

If your child takes dance or music lessons, or participates in community theater or physical education you can keep record of that as well. Volunteering at church and being involved in community outreach can also count as extra activities your student completed during the school year.

Legal Documents

It’s a good idea to keep a copy of your letter of intent to homeschool and the date that your yearly evaluations is due. Another legal document may be any college or dual enrollment classes or homeschool agreements you have signed for high school.

What happens in a portfolio evaluation?

During a portfolio evaluation a certified and licensed teacher evaluates your homeschool portfolio. They are looking for the items that your state requires as well as the educational progress that your student has made during the school year.

It does not have to be a scary process. Many teachers that do evaluations are homeschool parents themselves. They are just looking for educational progress. They will look over the samples of work and sign a form that abides by the laws of your state saying that your child has shown progress. 

How long should I keep my portfolio?

Many families choose to keep their child’s homeschool portfolio until they have graduated. If you have multiple children, this can take up a lot of space and you may not want to do that. Some states require you to keep records for 2 years, but each state varies. 

Elementary Portfolios

I keep all of my homeschool portfolios until my children hit middle school. Then we take our favorite samples and art projects and create one binder with each child’s work from elementary school. I use tabs to label them by grade level.

Middle School Portfolios

We do the same thing when they are done with middle school. We add the favorite things to the elementary binder and then we have an entire binder full of K-8 work.

High School Portfolios

I keep all the high school portfolios and don’t throw them away until after they are already enrolled in college. Portfolios come in handy when you are needing some extra help remembering everything you did while creating your official transcript. This is especially important if you waited until the last minute to try to put everything together.

More Homeschooling Resources

In Conclusion:

Homeschool record keeping can be overwhelming at first, just like anything new. Once you get into an end of the school year routine, it will become second nature to compile your records together as you prepare for the new school year. If you have last day of school printables, you can also include these in your portfolio.

Homeschool Record Keeping actually becomes enjoyable when you see how much you have accomplished and how far you and your children have come in your homeschool!

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