Monday, September 16, 2019

Homeschool Record Keeping - The Daily Log

Homeschool Record Keeping - The Daily Log
Homeschool record keeping intimidates many parent educators. The sheer volume of "printables"online attests to that fact. And, if that isn't enough, there are also fancy online services that promise to help you with this task - for a fee!

Good record keeping is easy - and it can be done without any printables or expensive services at all! I do mine all on a word processing document on the computer. It is VERY easy - and since I'm at the computer during my daughter's school day, it's a simple matter to keep records current.

This is my primary method of ensuring that I meet my state's legal attendance requirments. State laws vary (Check your own state's laws! This is not legal advice); some states require a certain number of hours per year, others require a certain number of days, and some require certain subjects. This Daily Log provides reassurance for me that all of the legal blocks have been checked.

Each year, I certify to my state of residence that I will complete their legal requirements for my daughter's education. As a Christian, I take "giving my word" very seriously, so it is important to me that I do what I agree to do - whether or not anyone ever asks to see proof that I have.

I prefer computer records to printables for a few reasons: 
1) My handwriting is atrocious!
2) A computer record can be searched quite easily for a specific entry
3) If you forgot to enter something three days ago, it can be added without making a mess and
4) The record can be sent electronically, if for some reason you need to share it with someone else.

 I have been doing this for a number of years for my daughter, but for this post I am creating fictional entries for a younger virtual child, in the interest of online privacy.

My basic method is this: I create two documents, and place them in a desktop folder. The first document is a "Log" - inspired by my earlier professional life when recording my work was a routine task.

The second document is an Annual Summary - a concise overview of the detailed Log. It will be the subject of my next post (Next Monday, God willing). Stay tuned for that! : )

My third  post will be about assembling a Portfolio (God willing, Monday after next),

But for now, I'll just say that both of the Log and the Summary documents are printed at year's end, and added to the Portfolio, as well as being stored on my computer.

Folder

I keep a folder on my computer desktop which is labeled with the current grade. In it, I put the current documents, along with any computer resources for that grade (for instance, our PDF music book, and things like current Grammar Charts and Math Reference pages go here).

The folder might be called, for example, "1st Grade" or for a home with more than one child, "Suzie, 1st Grade"

The Log

The log is a simple list which days we school, how many hours we school per day, and a list of the tasks accomplished each day. I keep an ongoing Word Processing document on my desktop, and back it up regularly by emailing it to myself - that way if my computer crashes, it is still out there in the ether.

If your state requires so many academic hours, or so many days' attendance, this might be a great way to document that.

At the top of the Log, I enter the child's name, grade, and year.

The Schedule

Then, I put an anticipated schedule that will be followed most days. It includes a list of subjects, and which resource is usually used for that subject at the current time. I boldface it. It looks something like this: 

Religion: The Beginner's Bible
English: McGuffey Reader, Pictoral Primer
Spelling: McGuffey Speller
Foreign Language: Salsa Spanish Video
Math: Starfall Games 
Science:eLearning for Kids
Social Studies/History: Liberty's Kids Video
Art: 
Home Ec: 
Phys Ed:
Music: Hoffman Piano Unit 1

Each Day's Entry

Then, to make each day's entry, I simply put the date for a day's entry, and anything special about that day "Valentine's Day" or "Uncle Dave arrives for visit" I then Copy & paste the boldfaced schedule onto that day, and add details & additional resources to each line, subtracting any subjects that are not covered that day. I might also record at the end of the post (for my own sake), any personal or family notes that would help me remember that day. So a day's entry might look like this:

January 1, 2020, New Year's Day - 4 hours
Religion: The Beginner's Bible, Noah and the Ark & Steve Green Hide 'Em in Your Heart Songs
English: McGuffey Reader, Pictoral Primer, page 37
Spelling: McGuffey Speller, column 1, page 3
Foreign Language: Salsa Video, Goldilocks Story
Math: Starfall Games - Bowling subtraction game

Social Studies/History: Liberty's Kids Video, Episode 19
Art: Fingerpainting

Phys Ed: Riding Bike
Music: Hoffman Piano Unit, Unit 1, Lesson 3, Hot Cross Buns
Out to dinner with Smith family for Mexican. Suzie learned to tie her shoes today : )

Periodically, within the document, I subtotal the hours accomplished, so I can see at a glance how close we are to completing the state requirement for the year (and it reassures me that we usually exceed the state requirement by quite a bit!) 

As you can see, once you have the daily schedule template, updating it only takes the tiniest bit of time, simply fill in the pages or lesson number for each entry, and add or delete as appropriate : )

Curious as to WHY you'd want to do this? Check out last week's post:
10 Reasons I Keep Homeschool Records
 Stay Tuned for upcoming posts on the Annual Summary and Assembling  a Portfolio

Monday, September 9, 2019

10 Reasons I Keep Homeschool Records


10 Reasons I keep Homeschool Records
This is a little series on how and why I keep thorough homeschool records.

Knowing why we do something often makes the "how" so much easier! 

So, I'll start with explaining why I keep homeschool records at all.

Many states do not require record-keeping as such. But just because the law doesn't require something, doesn't mean it's not a wise practice.

***This is not legal advice, be sure you check the laws in your state on your own!***

There are several reasons that I choose to keep homeschool records:

1.  Self-confidence.
Have you ever had one of those days (or weeks, or years) when you think, "I felt so busy, but I don't think I got anything DONE!" A written record lets ME know what I've accomplished each day as a teacher.

2. Family togetherness
A good record of our school days lets my husband know that we're getting a lot done, so he can rest easy.  It also lets him be more included in our day-to-day educational process, so that he can easily chose to contribute to our current topic.

3. Sharing
Sometimes I'm discussing with a friend some book, website or video that was helpful in years past.  Thanks to good record-keeping, I can do a quick computer search, and let my friend know exactly where to find the material. Likewise, if I meet a new homeschooler who wants to know exactly what our homeschool days look like, I can show her.

4. Legal Peace of Mind
Sadly, "Innocent till Proven Guilty" only applies to criminal law cases, not civil law cases. I find it reassuring to know that should the question ever arise about my education of my child, I have documentation to demonstrate that I am doing a thorough job, that my legal representation could use to defend against false accusations.

6. Gap Prevention
I have a schedule, but without record-keeping, it is too easy to let one subject be forgotten. With good record-keeping, I can see at a glance that all the boxes are getting checked regularly.

7. Organization
With all the records neatly in place, such tasks as compiling a portfolio, filing paperwork with the authorities, or creating a transcript become easy.

8. Keeping on Track
A good record-keeping system helps me remember where we are in which subject, so that if a bookmark falls out, or a computer link disappears, I can find my place.

9. Creating an Independent Learner & Providing for a Substitute
At this point in our journey, I am the motivating force behind my daughter's education. But, if I need a "sick day" - it's nice that my job could be done by my husband or someone else, without missing a beat. Also, a good record-keeping system makes it possible for my daughter to gradually take over more and more responsibility for her own education.

10. Memories
A good homeschool record makes the perfect memory book for a growing child. A full record of accomplishments, names, memories, and highlights, without having to keep every scrap of work ever done!


Stay tuned for upcoming posts on the Daily Log, the Annual Summary, and the Portfolio! 

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Monday, July 8, 2019

Asian Cucumber Salad

Asian Cucumber Salad
When I cook, I like to serve a variety of dishes so that each meal will have a variety of contrasting but complimentary flavors, textures and temperatures.

With many meals, that simply means that I put a nice green salad on the table with my entree and some bread. But, a salad made out of lettuce just doesn't seem to "go" with most Asian-Style meals.

Inspired by the actual salads I have enjoyed at Asian restaurants over the years, I created this simple salad. It became a huge hit at our house!

Here's how to make it:

Asian Cucumber Salad
Slice cucumbers lengthwise, then slice each half into semi-circles'
(I use one large English Hothouse Cucumber OR 3 small Salad Cucumbers)
Add
3-4 Tablespoons Seasoned Rice Vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Dark Sesame Oil

Toss & Serve
*If you have them handy, you could sprinkle on a few Sesame Seeds, too 

This dish is best chilled, but usually cucumbers are in the fridge anyway, so that detail takes care of itself.

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