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Get Organized! - Record Keeping for Butterfingers

Are your homeschool records slipping away from you? When it comes to high school record keeping, I have noticed that there are four kinds of homeschool parents.

Some parents keep their records in a Rubbermaid tub - and I call them Tubbies. Some keep records in a drawer or cabinet - I call them Cubbies. Some keep their records in a binder, like me! We affectionately call ourselves "Binder Queens." There is one other kind of record keeping style. This is the one where a gigantic question mark hovers over the parental unit. These are the Butterfingers.
They have no clue.

They are not even aware that records need to be kept!

When you have the Butterfinger record keeping system, it's almost impossible to recover the information you need to make a transcript. If you don't keep any records, then it is critical that you keep an up to date running transcript every year, so you don't lose the information.
Being a Tubby is a perfectly acceptable method of record keeping, especially if you like watching "CSI." Making a transcript out of a tub each year is more like forensic homeschooling, what we call "CSI - Homeschool!" At the end of each year, you will have to comb through all the "evidence" you and your student have collected and then combine it into a comprehensible "field report". You don't have to stay with this record keeping style, though. You can improve! Are you looking for ways to stop being Tubby? Just like losing weight, you have to be committed if you want to avoid being a Tubby.
First, buy a big three-ring binder and a couple of sets of big tab dividers. Put a piece of paper behind each divider with a label for what you "hope" to put there. Keep the labels very general: Math, English, PE, Science. Have a label for every subject. If you don't know what subject something is, or if it crosses over many subject areas and you can't decide which one it is, still make a label for that. For example, Dance. Is it PE or Fine Arts? Don't spend time deciding, just label a divider "Dance" and decide later. Have a label for every item required by state law. Our state requires a declaration of intent, annual testing, and immunization records, so I had a tab for each of those. Finally, add a tab for a transcript and for your reading list.

Each time your child produces something, use a three-hole punch and put it into the binder where it most likely belongs. You can always change your mind later, so don't spend too much time worrying about whether a report on President Abraham Lincoln goes in the History or in English folder. Just guess for now, and adjust later if you need to.

Next to your binder, have a place where you can collect papers as they are produced. Some people may be good about putting papers in their binder every day, but I wasn't that conscientious. I had a pile of papers that collected through the week, and would file them all at once. At least every month, file all the papers in your binder. Staying on top of your filing (at least relatively) will help you avoid piles upon piles of motivation-sapping papers to sort.
Once a month, or once a quarter, go through your binder and see what you have kept. Is there a section that doesn't have anything behind it? We found out pretty late in the year that our PE section was completely empty. Spend some time brainstorming ideas that would be records for that class. For PE we decided to keep ribbons from swim team. I have consulted with others about cooking classes, and suggested they keep shopping lists, menus, and recipes. Brainstorm ideas, and then see what you can accumulate for those blank sections.
What to keep in your binder? Assessments, tests, lab reports, art work or photos of art work, written reports, anything printed from the computer, lists of books and workbooks, awards or certificates of any kind. You probably don't need to keep all the daily work, unless you really can't think of anything else to keep for a class, but a sample might come in handy.
I'm well aware that some homeschoolers will barely make it through this article without a major panic attack. If that's you, don't get too stressed out about this! Like with a weight loss plan, any calories saved or burned will help the situation. And with record keeping, any records you keep will be better than no records at all. Keep everything you can, in whatever method works for you. It's better than nothing, and I can help you can make it pretty later. Just don't leave the question mark over your head, and you can succeed! Going from Butterfinger to Tubby is still a huge accomplishment worth celebrating. Just as your child will "graduate" a grade level every year, you can "graduate" to a higher level of organization every year.
You may want to read my original article titled Homeschool Record Keeping in High School to learn more about Tubbies, Cubbies, Binder Queens, and Butterfingers.

For more information on homeschool high school record keeping read my book, Setting the Records Straight: How to Craft Homeschool Transcripts and Course Descriptions for College Admission and Scholarships!
Lee Binz, The HomeScholar, specializes in helping parents homeschool high school. Get Lee's Free Resource Guide, "The 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make Homeschooling High School." You can find her at www.HomeHighSchoolHelp.com.

"Just bought and watched your "Getting the Big Scholarships" training. Wow! Thank you SO much! My son watched it with me and he's super-motivated now. That video and your help are worth their weight in gold! Anyone with any doubts about purchasing this one, no need to doubt. You won't be disappointed!"

-Kendra in CA

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Sunday, 27 November 2022

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