What To Record When Homeschooling
© Beverley Paine
Recording can include just about anything you do in your daily life, not just those things normally associated with 'school work'. It will save you a lot of time if you become clear about what it is you really need to have a record of, and for you to develop a system of recording which is simple, quick and well organised. It also needs to be done in a style you feel most comfortable with, or your resistance to keeping records will cause much frustration and feelings of failure!
What you record may include anything, although preferably not everything, your children do in the process of learning, either spontaneous, organised or solicited. Some parents often find themselves keeping most of the art and written work of their children, as the children's output is sometimes low in these areas, particularly for boys. Experience has shown home schooled children tend to produce less 'paper' work, but when they do, it is generally of a very high standard. Other parents will select only the best work, or examples which demonstrate milestones, new abilities, or desired outcomes of activities. A collection of such samples provides a basis for comparison over time, allowing you all to see how each child has progressed. It is important not to compare children against each other. Such comparisons are not relevant to each child's learning process and can be harmful to developing self esteem.
Most of the children's activities will not involve written or drawn work, and you may need to be creative in recording the most significant of them. Craft work can present particular problems if you are short on room to store finished products. Try encouraging the children to record their masterpieces as photographs which they can then date and caption, and may launch them into photography as a hobby!
The questions children ask offer an important insight into their existing or modified concepts and understandings. By keeping a record of these questions in your journal or evaluation folder you provide yourself with an extremely useful aid in planning future and follow up learning opportunities. Jot them down at a convenient time.
Anecdotal records are an excellent way to record, and often take the form of a journal. Journals, diaries or calendars become more useful if they record children's comments and responses as well as simply listing the children's activities. Anecdotal comments reveal your reactions or insights into not only your children's learning processes, but how you are learning from being the educational facilitator.
Such recording is made easier for you if you place a notebook, or your journal, open somewhere in the kitchen or family room with a pencil or biro next to it.
Recording and evaluation plays a pivotal role in educating your children at home. It may seem tedious and time wasting at times, but as you take the time to record, you are learning about how your children are growing and developing, and how they perceive their world. You are also reflecting upon your own role as their parent and educator, and how you can adapt and improve your methods to provide the best education possible. All this takes conscious effort and time.
Recording and collecting selected products of learning - the finished or half finished projects, workbooks, art or craft items, photographs of activities or events, etc., helps with immediate evaluation and planning, but can also provide a long term evaluative perspective.
Looking back on what your child did a month, a year or more ago, can illustrate how the child is building concepts and progressing with their acquisition of skills and knowledge in a way impossible to determine or remember from day to day. This long term view is invaluable at allaying nagging doubts about the effectiveness of your home learning program.
Not only will your recording efforts delight you when looking back over them in the years to come, your children will treasure revisiting their younger selves time and time again. Children enjoy reviewing collections of their work, which tend to evoke more detailed memories than any photograph album!
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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