What do you really need to keep? A military mom shares her frustrations with homeschool record keeping.
How much of my kids' elementary or middle school paper work do I need to keep? I have every notebook, every workbook they have done. We just moved for the third summer in a row and as I moved that stuff, one more time, it got me thinking do I really need to keep all of it? I have tests and grades in a separate binder, but do I need to keep all their workbooks? ~ Melissa, Military Mom
Homeschool Records: How Much to Keep?
The volume of records you keep depends on what you want to do with the information. There are three purposes for homeschool records you will want to keep in mind.
1. Obey state law
I always encourage people to obey their state homeschool laws; you might be asked to keep certain information while you are homeschooling. I haven't heard of any state that requires tons of information, though. Check your state law to see. It's often just a report card and some test scores. Beyond that, most records can be kept on your computer. Here's a tip: think about what a public school keeps from one year to the next. They don't keep EVERY piece of paper, just a report card and test scores. Regardless of where you move, states can only demand you meet their requirements during the time you live there, so you still don't have to keep everything forever.
2. Apply to college
When keeping records for college application, the situation changes a bit. Keep enough information to describe your class in a course description and make a transcript. That means keeping quite a bit of information, at least until you get those documents done. You also want to have some samples of work from each class - a written paper or math test, for example. Keep enough information to create a reading list and activity list, too. All this information means one thing - you don't have to keep anything from elementary school or even 7th and 8th grade level classes for the purposes of college admission.
3. Keep mementos
If you don't need something for state law, and you don't need it for college admission, then just do a quick "Do I love it?" check. If it's a memento you want to keep, then keep it because you LOVE it - not because it's homeschool work, but because it is a reminder of their childhood. It's like keeping their first baby outfit. It may not be important for "school" but it's still important to your family.
Let me give you an example. In elementary school I kept a running total of curriculum tests, and we didn't use many. I kept the annual assessments my kids took each year, and our state-required Declaration of Intent to Homeschool. In middle school, I kept more records as I tried to learn how to homeschool high school. By the time 9th grade came around, I was keeping one 3-ring notebook of material for each child for each year of school, which I condensed into comprehensive homeschool records and course descriptions for college admission.
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What homeschool records do you like to keep? Please share!
Please note: This post was originally published in December 2012 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.