Are you in a more “strict” state and worried about how to keep homeschool records?
It may be a bit time-consuming at first. Still, you can accomplish it with diligence, some good organization, and a bit of determination. Each state has different requirements for homeschooling. Some states have no paperwork requirements (like Texas), only self-kept time records (like Wisconsin), yearly assessments (like Michigan and previously Ohio), or regular assessments and curriculum approvals (like Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts). You can homeschool in all 50 states, and so many wonderful organizations have been created to help ensure that remains.
The record-keeping portions can be daunting, though. Let’s talk about that.
Record Keeping in Strict States
You will need to find out your state regulations and understand them. Take notes about attendance or timekeeping records, subjects that must be taught, portfolios that need to be submitted, assessments that must be done, and any reporting deadlines.
Organizing and storing your homeschool records can be a physical filing system or a digital solution like a spreadsheet and folder of needed documents. These 3 ring binders work well with folders and dividers for paper copies. You can also use portfolio books. If you are saving the digital files, be sure to make a backup on a memory stick or save a copy of all work to a server like Google Drive. I have a main folder using our homeschool name, then a folder for each child with their work and records.
Examples of materials you may need to keep or record:
This is to keep track of your child’s hours to show compliance with state regulations. Maintain a record of the days or hours (whichever your state requires) spent on homeschooling activities. This can be a simple calendar or attendance log.
Curriculum, Goals, and Lesson Plans
Keep a list or log of the curriculum materials, textbooks, online resources, and other educational materials used in your homeschooling. Include details such as titles, authors, publishers, and ISBN numbers if applicable. This documentation can help demonstrate that you are covering the required subjects. You can organize this data by subject or grade level for easy reference with the next child.
Assessments and Progress
Keep any assessments, tests, quizzes, or evaluations conducted to measure your child’s progress. Note their scores or performance and keep any supporting documentation. This can be helpful in showcasing your child’s academic growth and achievement.
Many states require the submission of portfolios or work samples as part of homeschool reporting. Keep samples of your child’s work across various subjects, such as writing samples, artwork, science experiments, or other projects. Organize them by subject or date to demonstrate progress over time.
Document any extracurricular activities, field trips, workshops, or community service projects the student participates in, as these can contribute to a well-rounded education. Consider keeping a journal or log of your homeschooling activities and experiences. Document field trips, educational outings, co-op classes, guest speakers, and other enrichment activities. This can provide additional evidence of a well-rounded education.
Records of Reading Lists
If your homeschooling approach involves reading lists or literature studies, maintain a list of books read by the student and their reflections or summaries.
You can keep track of grades by creating transcripts. This is especially useful for high school-level students who may need them for college applications.
Ensure you have complied with any legal requirements for homeschooling in your jurisdiction. This may include registration forms, homeschooling affidavits, or other legal documents.
Do the requirements ever change?
Yes. For example, Ohio homeschooling laws have officially been changed and take effect on Oct. 3 this year (2023). There will now be minimal notification and no more assessments (you DO still have to provide one for this year because the law does not change prior to the legal notification date in August).
This is another factor for why local homeschool groups can be very useful. In Wisconsin, I joined the Wisconsin Homeschooling Parents Association – WHPA. They put out regular notifications of changes and bills currently affecting homeschooling in the state legislature.