By Rosanna Ward
I am very blessed to live in “the best homeschooling state in the nation” (quote from OCHEC): Oklahoma is the only state with a constitutional provision guaranteeing the right to homeschool, via the “unless other means of education are provided” clause of the compulsory education law, Section 4, Article 13. There are virtually no regulations other than homeschooling parents need to teach 180 days per school year (minus nine absences and 2-3 teacher days, so really less than 170 days) and that is about it. Of course, most of us still keep records anyway — just in case, and because if we have any plans for our children to enter college, they will need a high school transcript.
My daughters were in middle school when we first began our homeschool journey, and I started off keeping everything in a large box. But at the end of the first year, we moved into a two-bedroom apartment with five people and a baby (my mother-in-law was also staying with us at the time) while our house was being built. So I quickly discarded the bulky box in favor of scrapbook portfolios of their work. I also kept files for attendance and test grades. This was a fun way to show people our homeschool journey those first few years.
But when Hannah hit high school, I realized I needed a more organized way to keep her credit information. I developed a system that has worked really well for us. Each girl has a three-ring binder (2-inch), and I use plastic page protectors for the syllabus of each class.
At the front of the binder, I have a four-year High School Planning Schedule sheet (at right), where we list all the classes each girl is taking or planning to take in her high school career. This sheet also has a place for what the class is worth and a final grade. Be aware that my planner page was changed several times as we changed our minds about what classes to take, so this document is not set in stone.
After this page, the notebook is divided up by subject type: English, math, history, science, electives, etc. In each section, I have a syllabus for each class. This provides the name of the class, what curriculum(s) were used, points available and points given, grades for tests, and a final grade. The syllabus is in a plastic page protector, followed by three-hole punched pages of relevant paperwork, such as the tests and other work we thought would validate the credit.
The reason I use a binder instead of a filing system is that I like being able to grab the binder and have it all there at my fingertips, and it is easy to take somewhere if I ever need to.
There are a few subjects, such as fine arts, that took us longer than a year to complete: Even though it is on our planner for one year, we stretched out the actual work for each class. This worked for us because every time we went to a play, concert, museum, etc., we would keep the program and add it to that section. We did the same with Bible electives and life skills classes.
For English, the girls were required to read 10-15 books from a required list and write book reports on each of them, which were added to the literature section. The reading was accomplished over a period of time longer than a year and was often done in conjunction with various grammar, writing, vocabulary, and other “English” assignments. I divided the courses by type — but not year — so although the planner has them listed for a certain year, the course work is actually spread out.
Also, we often completed unit studies revolving around historical eras, and in these classes, there were times when a history paper also counted as an English writing paper. I had a hard time deciding where to “file” the paper, but usually chose history because that section had less in it.
Any certificates from contests, outside classes, Drivers Ed completion, national tests, etc., are also added to this binder. If they can’t be filed under a certain subject, I file them in the back. For example, my older daughter Hannah took culinary classes for several years, and I would file some of her menus under this elective category. If I ever run into projects that weren’t done on paper, or are too bulky to add to the binder, I take a picture of the work and print it with a description and file it in the binder.
Overall, I am very happy with this way of keeping track of our homeschool high school work. I am pretty sure this is how I will be keeping track of the boys’ work in the future.
— Rosanna Ward is a devoted wife of almost 19 years and mother of four children, two of which are currently homeschooled. Her oldest daughter has graduated, and her youngest son is a toddler. She is a homeschool graduate and has been homeschooling for six years. Rosanna loves to study History and Genealogy, and currently resides in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.