Record keeping in Homeschooling
A topic that frequently comes up in meetings and forums that deal with homeschooling is record keeping. The importance of record keeping cannot be ignored. It is not only legally required in various States, but also provides important milestones in your child’s learning experience. An interest-initiated homeschooling approach means that the topic of studies is far ranging and multifarious. Thus, it can be something of a challenge to write quarterly reports for the school district, when it is difficult to classify learning into neatly pigeonholed areas.
Record keeping is important not only for the sake of regulations. It is also an exciting way to record and document the learning process of the child. When most of the learning is done through play and there is no clear cut index of topics that have to be covered, it is necessary for the parent to keep some sort of a log which records the child’s progress.
The records you keep can be as simple as a daily journal, or as elaborate as a software program. If you participate in a support group, you probably have set forms and requirements. But even so, keeping track of daily work makes reporting easy and efficient. There are various record keeping methods used by various homeschools. Some of the more popular ones are:
This can be maintained by the teacher or the student. This basically aims to keep a log of what was learned and what was done. Recording memorable events that happened in the course of the year is a great way to reminisce later on.
Lay out the plans and the assignments for the week in a teacher’s planning notebook. Check each item as it is covered. Maintain a separate area where any additional things can be recorded. This includes educational trips, visits and videos etc. Any extra topics that were covered are also recorded in this area. Make a summary every quarter.
This consists of a collection of varied materials that show what the child has achieved and done during the course of study. Portfolio assessment is a very effective way to chart the child’s progress. It gives structure to the otherwise loose and flexible form of schooling called homeschooling. A drawing portfolio will consist of some paintings or sketches that are considered the best in that quarter. A language portfolio may consist of essays, stories, reading-logs, spelling samples or letters. Progress in mathematics, fine arts, history, science and social studies can all be recorded this way. The biggest advantage is that portfolio assessment places control in the hands of the children. Having a tangible record of what they have established eggs them on to greater heights.
Other than the above-mentioned systems, there are also purchased record-keeping systems that lay out a good checklist. Some of these allow one to personalize the organizer. Irrespective of the methods used, record keeping in one form or the other is essential. Your child’s future may well depend on the well-maintained record that you have meticulously kept over the years.
Homeschooling – the darker side
It’s not all hunky-dory and smooth sailing on the homeschooling front. Like all things in life, there is a downside that has to be seriously considered when you explore the homeschooling option. Though one man’s bane may be another man’s boon, there are certain common reasons for concern.
The responsibility of teaching your child rests solely on you. You cannot blame anyone else if your child is seen wanting in the skills that his peers excel in. If your child cannot do the things that are expected from other children of his age group, it reflects badly on you as an educator as well as a parent.
A critical part of homeschooling is the time that you have to spend with your children. You may have to give up your friends, shopping and other entertainment and dedicate all these to your child. This can become frustrating at times. You have to learn to take the aggravation with equanimity and wait for the rewards with patience and enthusiasm.
A parent who is dedicated to tutor his or her child single handedly does not realistically have much time left over for a career. This means that the family is robbed of an additional source of income. In turn, this may lead to stress over finances. You will have to train yourself to live on a strictly controlled budget. While this is a matter of habit, it does need some getting used to.
You cannot take a break when you feel like it. Feelings of guilt will assail you if you neglect studies just because you are feeling blue. You also fear that the child will take advantage of the situation. Even when you have given homework, you have to be around to give a helping hand. This means that anytime your child is around you, you are on duty! For some, this may mean working every waking hour. The child studying at home also needs to get out more. This comes from staying at home all the time. Interaction with adults and other children needs to be given special attention.
Children tutored at home cannot develop in the various directions that are open to children attending public schools. To achieve that kind of exposure, you either have to be a super-parent skilled in everything, or enroll your child to various activities. This may not only prove too costly, but also be counter-productive.
It is sometimes observed that homeschooled children do not do as well in SAT tests as their school-going counterparts. Without a diploma or a GED, some students find it difficult to get into the military.
Lastly, if you envision enrolling your child to a public school, there may be a certain period of emotional as well as social adjustment. A child who is used to being at home for the whole day and enjoying so much of uncontained freedom may have to undergo some distressing emotional upheavals before he or she gets used to the rigors of a regular school life.