Unschooling and Record Keeping

I’ve been catching up on my magazine reading, and my favorite is Home Education. It’s gotten me thinking about record keeping – not only for legal reasons related to our end-of-year portfolio review, but also just for our own purposes as a family.

Unschooling, in case you wonder what I’m talking about, is a form of homeschooling based on child-led learning. Rather than using a set curriculum, we explore the world via living in it, and exploring our kids’ interests and inclinations (and our own, as well). While I’m thinking about it, let me post a link to a terrific article on unschooling, written by a Dad who is also a public school teacher. Long, but very worth a read, whether you’re new to this concept or not. Here you go: http://thisdadstake.weebly.com/

Anyway, I’ve experimented with various ways of keeping track of what types of things we do and learn. Most often, at the end of the year I put together a list of things we’ve done, and then categorize those things loosely by the traditional school headings (math, science, literature, etc). At the end, I include a list of all the books we’ve read aloud to them that year. I do this for both kids, and then include a folder with some samples of their artwork and writings, and perhaps fliers and brochures from field trips. Sometimes it’s a bit of a challenge to remember all of the things we’ve been up to. I refer back to my personal journal, but that’s more focused on my own perspective and emotions on any given day, so I have to sift out what the kids might have been focusing on.

A couple of years ago, I found an online source for unschooling records, which worked pretty well. The one I’ve used is here: http://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/pdf/unschoolingrecordkeeper.pdf

Just this week, after trying out this form again, I found that it doesn’t quite do what I want. So I’ve decided to go back to plain old pen and paper, and just make notes of what each kid was doing on any given day.

So it might look something like this, which was our actual day yesterday:

Thursday 9/25/08:
Tristan played World of Warcraft, and exchanged IMs with Taryn.
Bridget played Webkinz.
Bridget made two feather masks (we took pictures of them).
We all went to the chiropractor.
Played with fractions, quizzing each other in the chiropractor’s waiting room. Also discussed with Tristan how to achieve his goal to attend college in 6 years, and how he can set up a plan to fulfill all the requirements for that.
We went to the farm stand for dinner ingredients.
Tristan had soccer practice.
We all watched Shrek the Third.
Read-aloud time was “High Rhulain” by Brian Jacques.
Tristan did some reading before bed, and played his bass a bit. Bridget worked on knitting before bed.

Nothing overtly schoolish, but lots of learning was happening (we’re not really workbook people, at least currently). I also make note of when I take related pictures, so I can add them to our portfolio eventually. This method is flexible, and not terribly time-consuming. I’ll just make a few notes at the end of each day, or during the next day, and remember to write down the read-aloud books we finish (which I’ve been doing for a while already). At the end of the year, my compiling of information should be a bit simpler. I think it’s a good solution for our family.


Unschooling and Record Keeping — 1 Comment

  1. I use Homeschool Tracker. It’s a program that allows the user to pick and choose and actually modify to fit their homeschool life. I’ve used it, for probably, five years. Mostly, I use the “daily journal” feature and I also like the “attendance” feature which lets me know if we’re doing the requisite “175 days” (not that anyone has ever checked :).

    Your days look a lot like ours ;). Today, after dinner, we were listening to an audio book and Etain asked me to give her some math problems ;). Then, I gave her some spelling words, and then we wrote notes back and forth.

    Ha! I should put that on my homeschool log for today … ;)

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