Keeping records of activities is a valuable part of a home schooling life.
Firstly, and often uppermost in parents’ minds, is the need to be able to demonstrate to the Local Authority the learning that has been taking place and a record of some sort is useful to turn to.
Secondly, but equally important, it is a rewarding and reassuring way to look back on the things the children have done for parents’ own peace of mind – helps jog memory too. As sometimes, especially when having doubts about it, parents have reported feeling that they have ‘done nothing’ all week.
This is rarely ever the case. The children will have been busy. And when they’re busy, they will be learning.
However, if the things they are busy with are incidental, have not produced masses of paperwork, have been more experiential or practical, been in the form of visits or fieldwork type projects and have not taken place in workbooks which are a record in themselves, there can be little tangible evidence of all this valuable learning.
So home educating families use a variety of ways to keep records of their activities, outings, experiences and busyness. Since education is a long slow process looking back over these helps parents remember what they’ve done and feel confident that their children really are achieving over time.
Here are some of the methods they use:
Diary – of sorts
Not necessarily a lengthy daily diary, just sufficient notes about the day’s/week’s activities, places visited, topics covered or discussed (discussions being an equally important part of the learning process), books read, outings, social interaction, projects, etc. A dated desktop diary in an accessible place where you can quickly jot things down is useful for this.
Some families like to do this as a Blog, the advantage being that pictures can be included of the children engaged with their activities. You can choose whether to make this chatty or formal, academic or personal, public or just for you.
Instead of a dairy or blog a simple daily list does the same job. It’s quick and easy to maintain (time is one of the challenges with more lengthy diaries when parents already have enough to do). Just list activities done and perhaps what subjects and skills you think were covered. Spreadsheets can work for this too.
Children’s own dairies or blogs
Some parents encourage their children to keep their own ‘diaries’ or blogs with pictures and text, increasing their children’s skills whilst doing so. Especially interesting for recording travels and visits where they might have collected literature or pamphlets etc. to stick in or copy/photograph and which could also involve research and links to demonstrate it if it’s an online blog.
A quick easy way of recording children busy with their activities. Also useful for keeping record of all the things they make and produce when the house isn’t big enough to keep it all! And a way of documenting moments where involved learning was taking place but which are less academic and have less to ‘show’ as a result.
Most parents collate all the things the children do, especially if it’s on paper or in books, in one place like a storage box or drawer and use that as their record. However this doesn’t show all the valuable learning that’s covered in other ways like museum visits, discussions or incidental learning for example, so you still need some way of recording those too. But it is valuable to have physical samples of this type of work among your records.
Weekend, travel and holidays
Some parents like to include in their records the events and activities the children are engaged with during weekends and holidays – especially travel, as this is as valuable part of education as that which takes place during the week.
Finally, these are just ideas and not legal requirements; some parents are confident enough in their provision to not need to keep any kind of evidence of activities either for themselves or for their Local Authority and feel able to talk about their child’s education confidently, or write a report, as and when the need arises.
It’s best to do what works for you; practically, time wise and which builds your home educating confidence.