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Help for Tubbies, Cubbies, and Binder Queens

Help for Tubbies, Cubbies, and Binder Queens

Help for Tubbies, Cubbies, and Binder Queens

If you are homeschooling a high school student, you’ve probably given at least a little thought to keeping homeschool records. Perhaps you’ve only thought about it vaguely and said to yourself, “I’ll get to it someday." Even if you’re convinced your student will never go to college, chances are a situation will arise when you will need to provide a record of your student’s high school experience, even if it’s only for a camp counselor application or a volunteer position! Here are some pointers on what to keep, when to start keeping records, and how to ease into it if you haven’t started yet.

Choose a Method

The good news is that no matter your organizational ability (or lack thereof), there are a few easy methods you can use to track your student’s coursework. The first is what I affectionately call the “tubbie” method. Tubbies toss homework and tests into a big plastic tub, hoping someday to go through and organize it.

Slightly further up the organizational “food chain” are parents who keep records in cupboards, cabinets, or drawers. These “cubbies” are usually a little more organized than the tubbies, using a different drawer for each child, and perhaps even different drawers for each year.

Other parents keep track of their students' work in notebooks. These are the “binder queens" (or kings) of the homeschool world. They tend to be the most organized people I meet.

What to Keep

Once you have chosen your method, whether it’s using a tub, a cupboard, or a binder, what exactly should you keep? For some classes, such as math or science, it’s easy; keep tests, labs, and worksheets. But what about classes such as home economics or piano? This is where you need to think creatively. Think about what your child does in each class. For a home economics class, you could keep menus, shopping lists, and pictures of meals your child created. For a piano class, you could keep the list of songs your student learned, the piano books they used, and theor recital programs.

Records can include a list of books read, how many hours spent on a subject, or co-op class course descriptions. Some parents photocopy the cover and table of contents of each textbook for writing course descriptions. Your student could also keep a journal of what they work on each day or week to share in the work of tracking!

When to Keep Records

When your child enters high school, it becomes more critical to keep records. Of course, your student needn’t be 14, or in 9th grade, before you start keeping records. It’s common for homeschoolers to do high school level work at the age of 12 or 13. If your student is not technically high school age but is nevertheless doing high school work, make sure to give them credit for it! If your child is in 7th or 8th grade, consider keeping homeschool records as if they were already in high school to be prepared for anything as you move forward.

Try to move up the organizational food chain over the years, so that by the time your student is a senior, you are organized and ready to produce transcripts and course descriptions when necessary. Start small, but start somewhere!

Click to Get My Ebook, "The 10 Essentials for Homeschooling High School!"
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How to Remember Course Description Details

How to Remember Course Description Details

How to Remember Course Description Details

Many moms feel anxious that they will not remember to include everything in the course descriptions and reading lists. Do you feel the same way? Making your comprehensive records every year is a HUGE step in the right direction. Every spring, sit yourself down and update your homeschool transcript for each child. Then, write course descriptions for each class on the transcript. You heard me. Each class.

You don't have to be a perfect mom to make this happen. Ordinary humans get this job done too, so let me show you how to do it.

First, let go of perfection - especially if you are stressing out so much you are avoiding it all together! Make it your goal to include 80% of the information about the course contents, and then maybe you will feel more comfortable. When you piecemeal things together, instead of use textbooks, it can be a lot to list, but if your goal is to write down at least 80%, then often, moms feel more comfy-cozy-secure in what they are doing.

Absolutely you want to capture the most important things, but that should be pretty easy using the "elephant strategy" that you will remember and not forget.  The big solution to  your concerns is that you take just a few easy steps to making your class descriptions:

  1. Every day, throw all your information or papers in a big box in your schoolroom, or if that doesn't work, take notes in a notebook, journal, or even a calendar!

  2. Every month or so, try to use your notes or information from those papers you saved to add to your course descriptions

  3. Every year, work on making your course descriptions look good. I suggest spring, when the bulk of the class is already done, and all of the information is fresh in your mind.

If you do it that way, you'll easily remember what you need to remember!

Keep up the good work, homeschool parents! You can do it!  Start this process and the next thing you know, you'll be creating the course descriptions and records! Start this EARLY in high school, by 9th and 10th grade, so you have plenty of time to work on this. Then just be consistent. In fact, one Gold Care Club member worked on two course descriptions per week - that was her goal. She was extremely successful through the process. If you are stuck, maybe a more bite-sized goal will help you?

How do YOU remember the details you need to put into course descriptions?  Do you have a method that you can share?

If you need more help, I have a free class to motivate you. Check it out! Homeschool Records That Open Doors..


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Documentation + Work Samples + Grading = Easy-Peasy DONE!

Documentation + Work Samples + Grading = Easy-Peasy DONE!
Mary Beth asked me on Facebook, "What type of documentation is recommended to support our student’s transcripts? Sample of work? How do we determined the grade? Do we need to be able to defend the grade we gave our student?"

 Documentation + Work Samples + Grading

I suggest that you keep course descriptions as you go, updating them each year, so that you have a record of your curriculum and class experiences. A course description can have three distinct parts.

  1. A paragraph about what you did, perhaps from the curriculum manufacturer, online class description, or my Comprehensive Record Solution.

  2. A list of what you used, including textbooks, supplements, experiences, and field trips.

  3. A description of how you evaluated, listing tests, quizzes, papers, projects, discussion, or other non-test assessments.

Keep samples of work in a notebook, in case colleges ask for a sample. It's unlikely they will ask, but those samples can add some feeling of security. Better safe than sorry! Plus, saving these samples can help you describe in details your grading criteria.

Outside documentation is important, but there are many options, so choose the one that best first your homeschool and your child. It can be different for every student - maybe just the SAT for one student, or lots of AP tests for another student. This article explains outside documentation: Super-Size Scholarships with Outside Documentation

More Resources

I have two free classes that will be a big help for parents.

1. This free class will explain a LOT about documentation: Homeschool Records that Open Doors

2. This free class will explain about how to determine grades: A Homeschool Parent's Guide to Grades, Credits and Transcripts

= Easy-Peasy DONE!

Don't be anxious about homeschooling high school - do something about it! Take some classes, read some books, and go to a homeschool convention to learn more. It's not scary, it's just a little different. You'll figure it out - it's really not that hard.

What do you do for your continuing education? What books and resources do you used to help you along the way?

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Great News About Grading Scales!

Great News About Grading Scales!
I have such marvelous news about grading scales! This is guaranteed to thrill! Or maybe not... Let me know after I explain the good news!

You are in charge of your homeschool policy. As the parent, you can choose any grading scale that you want to use.  If you are homeschooling independently, then you get to decide.

There are a few commonly-used grading scale options I usually suggest you consider.  Which of these will strike your fancy?

 Grading Scale Options

Option 1

97-100% = A+, 93-96% = A, 90-92% = A-, 87-89% = B+, 83-86% = B, 80-82% = B-,  77-79% = C+, 73-76% = C, 70-72% = C-, 67-69% = D+, 63-66% = D, 60-62% = D-,  <60% = F

 Option 2

A=4.0, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0

 Option 3

93-100% = A, 85-92% = B, 75-84% = C, 70-74% = D, Below 70% = F

 Option 4

90-100% = A, 80-89% = B, 70-79% = C, 60-69% = D, Below 60% = F

There are other options out there, but there is no "right" answer to the best grading scale. You can choose the one that's easiest for you to use, the one that looks the most intimidating, or the one that helps you sleep at night. You could even use the one your friends, neighbors, or public school uses, if you want to - it's totally your choice.

Choose the one you like, either for a good reason or for no reason at all. If you simply can't decide, then print this post, and staple it to the wall. Throw a dart at it (or a limp spaghetti noodle will work equally well.)  The grading scale closest to where you hit the paper? That's the grading scale option that you should use - it's the right one for you!

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Homeschool Records Worth Imitating

Homeschool Records Worth Imitating
One of the most rewarding parts of my job is hearing the stories my clients tell of their success in college admission and scholarships.  I know from experience the excitement of hearing that my student was admitted to his number one college, and the relief we felt when he won scholarships.  Hearing your stories is what keeps me doing this work of encouragement, so imagine my delight when Lisa in Washington sent me this:


“Hi Lee!  During the registration process at the University last week, one of the admissions people stopped me and said, ‘Your documents when applying were amazing.  We would like to use them as a model for others, as they were really helpful for us and especially for homeschoolers!’  Of course, I followed the Comprehensive Record Solution that you provide, and heard about your success with the admission process…but never expected to hear it for our own admission!”

While this was a great encouragement to me, there’s also a moral to this story that everyone can benefit from: Prepare your homeschool records in advance! Great homeschool records aren't hard, but they do take time and effort to put together. Resolve today to put some time aside soon and work on yours!  I have tons of support and resources, and am happy to help!

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The Homeschool Librarian Loved This Book

The Homeschool Librarian Loved This Book

Susan Mythen "The Homeschool Librarian" reviewed my book on Amazon.  You should hear what she said!

"I loved this book. Loved. I wouldn't say that it's the most comprehensive book out there, but the areas that it does tackle are done impeccably, and leave the reader feeling confident about their ability to see their homeschooler through to graduation and beyond.

This book doesn't try to be all things to all people; it focuses on documentation and transcript writing and does it well. Lee Binz (the HomeScholar) uses the transcripts and documents from her own children's records as examples, as well as those of numerous other students.

It's helpful to see exactly what a good transcript looks like, especially one that doesn't require an umbrella school or an expensive computer program (she uses Microsoft Word for all her documents).

Her writing is engaging (lots of exclamation points, which made me laugh) and she drives her point home: you can do this! If you've made the decision to homeschool through high school, this book will give you the tools you need to document it properly.

If you're on the fence, Setting the Records Straight may give you the confidence you need to take the leap with your student."

Read all eighteen "5-Star" Reviews Online of "Setting the Records Straight!"

Feel free to share your experience with record keeping too! I'd love to hear if my book has helped you homeschool too!

Your best strategy for keeping all those balls in the air is preparation.  The HomeScholar Gold Care Club will give you the comprehensive help you need to homeschool high school

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Documenting Homeschool Academic Records

Documenting Homeschool Academic Records
Should you include documentation of your students academic record by year or by subject on your transcript? Do colleges prefer to see the classes by subject organization: english, math, history etc. or do they prefer to know which year your student completed what subject: Freshman, sophomore, junior etc.?

The trouble with these questions is that there isn’t a one size fits all answer.

I decided to put both on my sons transcripts. The reason why is because some colleges will want it one way and other colleges will want it the other way – it was really hard for me to figure out which one wanted which. I kept both prepared at all times and both of those were part of my comprehensive records tied to my course descriptions. I would then find out which way colleges preferred it and give them the corresponding academic record.

I would give it to them that way; lay the transcript that they wanted on the top and underneath that would be the spiral-bound copy of my comprehensive homeschool records which had both. That way, I felt that I was making it  as easy as possible for them.

Colleges have good reason for wanting the transcript each way. Sometimes they want to know by subject whether you actually had four years of English and four years of math. Other colleges will want the transcript by year because they really want to know whether the child fell apart in senior year and had senioritis. They can compare year to year and see which one looks beefier.

They have their own reasons and you don’t really know so you want to find out of their preferred way of getting the transcript and give it to them that way. Yet at the same time, I included both in the comprehensive record underneath that one page.

The HomeScholar’s Total Transcript Solution will take the fear out of homeschool transcripts!

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Transcripts or Course Descriptions?

Transcripts or Course Descriptions?



Although most homeschool students utilize transcripts for college admissions, many students are also now submitting a homeschool portfolio when they apply to colleges.  What’s the difference, and why should you use a portfolio?  In general, a transcript is a one-page piece of paper that gives a college the opportunity to get a snapshot of your student, and decide whether they get a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down on admissions.  A portfolio, also known as a comprehensive record or course descriptions, is more detailed information.

On a transcript, you only list the title of the class, the grade, and the credit. On a course description, however, you list what was taught in the class. For example, a transcript might report one credit for Biology, but a course description would indicate the textbook used (i.e. ‘Exploring Creation with Biology’ by Apologia), the different concepts that were taught, a listing of how many tests you gave, and/or a list of how many labs you did.

A transcript has the information for each class on one line, but a course description or portfolio might have a whole page of information on each class.  Most colleges will want to see course descriptions of some kind, but the first step in creating course descriptions is to create your transcript, so you really need to do both!

When you are applying for colleges, you will need a great homeschool transcript.  The good news is you can “do-it-yourself” and save thousands.  Discover the Total Transcript Solution.
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Summertime Fun with Record-keeping

Summertime Fun with Record-keeping

Summertime Fun: Record-keeping

It’s summertime, and the living is… easy?  Probably not, if you’re a homeschool parent!  Now is the time to play catch-up. Summer provides an opportunity to work on all those tasks you’ve put off throughout the school year.  Little things such as cleaning out the closet under the stairs, or planning a visit to grandparents in another state.  Summertime is also a great opportunity to catch up on homeschool tasks that you’ve put off during the school year.

One of the most important things is for homeschool parents to consistently keep up with record keeping.   Remember, it doesn’t matter how gifted a home educator you are or what wonderful intentions you have. There also has to be follow-through! You need to keep records that are academic in nature or things that are at high school level. It’s relatively common for homeschoolers to do high school level work at a young age. If your junior high child is doing Algebra right now, make sure to keep records of it. Algebra is a high school level course, and can be put on the high school transcript even if it is completed earlier.

If you have a high school student, record keeping means creating course descriptions and transcripts that capture all their educational experiences in a way that colleges can understand.  For a great introduction to writing these, I recommend my Total Transcripts Solution.  A course description is a simple paragraph describing what was taught. You can create course descriptions using a textbook description, a catalog or homeschool book description, or simply by writing a list of what your student did in that course.  This might seem daunting, but start small.  Try to write one each day while your child is busy with summer activities, or write one a week if they’re at home and underfoot. After the first few tries, you’ll find yourself turning them out in no time!

 Are you on Twitter?  Follow me here
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Applications, Course Descriptions, and Questions

Applications, Course Descriptions, and Questions
Start your college applications early.  It can be complicated, and questions can come up.  Read how it took this mother weeks to prepare detailed course descriptions. Plan ahead, like Leanne.

Hello, Lee-

I have been working for weeks now preparing detailed course descriptions (like yours in your publications on the subject). I take my son to Grove City College next week for an interview.I was wondering about a course that you really only have a pass/fail grade for. I noticed you had one like that (Driver's Ed) and still gave your son a grade.

My son attended Worldview Academy and did a lot of worldview/apologetics elsewhere, too, that I am combining into a course. Unfortunately I have no "analysis" grades for this course (no papers, reports, tests, etc.) other than a test he took at Worldview, which was extremely challenging and which he didn't get a great score on! He did well enough to still get 2 credits from Oklahoma Wesleyan University as a "Pass" for attending Worldview, however. I doubt Grove City will accept those 2 credits, but I thought I'd put the exam under Analysis as a "Pass" (and the fact that he received those 2 credits) along with Reading: 100% and Participation-Attendance and Discussion: 100% as the other 2 categories on the course description and give him an "A" for a 1/2 credit class. I just don't see him writing a paper anytime soon that I could count.

Also, do you think it's all right to organize the course descriptions in a binder by subject? (rather than by grade taken?) Please pray that the interviewer will accept the binder and allow us to leave it there to be referred to after Evan applies to the school. I think I would scream, "Do you realize how much time this took?!!" if they said, "No, thanks".

Thanks for your invaluable advice.



Dear Leanne,

I hope you have wonderful success at Grove City!  They are a great, homeschool friendly college, and I don't anticipate you will have any trouble.

In general, I don't recommend pass/fail grades.  I did it myself, but since then I've learned more.  Some college will use pass/fail classes in their GPA calculations, and may randomly assign a C (or even D) to the class.  For that reason, I often suggest parents either apply a homeschool grade or leave it off the transcript.

Not every class has to have analysis.  Not every class needs to have a paper. Here is a blog post that may help:Homeschooling High School – Underwater Basket Weaving: Sometimes Easy is OK.

If colleges are going to use your comprehensive record, then having it by subject will be easier for them to use.  I like that idea.

The interviewer is MUCH more interested in meeting your son that reading the records.  The records are evaluated when they are looking at the total application. If they look at your records, that's a bonus, but this interview time is about your SON and not about his SCHOOL.  Does that make sense?  When they interview other students, they aren't looking at academics, they are looking at social and non-tangible skills.  Have him dress clean and neat, look the interviewer in the eye, and shake hands firmly.  Come prepared with some questions about the school. Have a mental list of things that he can say about himself.  Parents should generally stay FAR out of the way.  They are trying to determine how your son will do alone on campus - so letting him be alone on campus during the visit will help.

Learn the SECRET to getting your student placed at the TOP of the stack for college admission consideration as well as one of those MASSIVE university scholarships.  Get the Comprehensive Record Solution!

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What is Perfect for Your Family?

What is Perfect for Your Family?

When you are making your comprehensive homeschool records, it’s a great deal like cooking Thanksgiving Dinner. There is usually a whole lot of work involved, that’s true, however there are a great number of  choices! You can find a huge number of “correct ways” to create great homeschool records! You can  choose to create your information appear the way that is JUST RIGHT for your family. I offer  options as well as templates you are able to change and customize. I also present a selection of successful  homeschool records. I truly want parents to see a large selection of perfectly good ways to  demonstrate homeschool records. We homeschoolers usually are a unique group, and one approach won’t fit all of us. Loosen up a bit! Select the way that’s perfect for your family!

Learn how to save money homeschooling with my free Special Report: “7 Secrets to Homeschooling Through a Financial Storm.”
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The Comprehensive Record is the Key to Success!

The Comprehensive Record is the Key to Success!
We have written extensively the reason documenting your homeschool student’s comprehensive record is an intelligent suggestion for every college bound homeschool family.  Below are five final reasons you really should give it some consideration:

*College admissions is a high stakes, extremely competitive game and you need to put your best foot forward because it helps to set your student apart.

*Homeschooling provides students with a few  specific as well as quantifiable advantages that don’t always shine through in the college application process. A comprehensive record assures those positive aspects are featured.

*College Admissions officials are usually called on to make quite a few very important decisions (admission and scholarships) utilizing very limited details (transcript and application. )  The majority will greatly appreciate more information shown to them in a logical, easy-to-use format. The comprehensive record is a confirmed method to offer them just what they would like.

*Documenting your student’s records is actually surprisingly encouraging to students. We have discovered over and over how empowering and inspiring it is to share the process of record building with homeschool students. It causes their homeschool education feel important and real to them.

*Putting together homeschool records for your student’s college application is a big job. It is usually easier to copy a successful model rather than producing one yourself.

Our comprehensive records were seen by the colleges as a “best-practice. ” Seattle Pacific University stated they were “the best documents and records” they had ever seen. We were awarded $184, 000 worth of full-tuition scholarships for both of my boys from that university and substantial scholarships from the other universities where we applied. Comprehensive homeschool records opened doors for our family and they can for your family as well. You owe it to yourself and your family to invest in a proven system and let me help you create your own beautiful, inspiring, door-opening records.

I fully guarantee you will be very pleased with the product and the results.

Your best strategy for keeping all those balls in the air is preparation.  The HomeScholar Gold Care Club will give you the comprehensive help you need to homeschool high school.

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Playing the Name Game!

Playing the Name Game!
Several people tend to be intimidated by grading. A number of parents tend to be fearful of high school credits. Then you will find some unschool or delight-directed homeschools that definitely stress out regarding naming courses. It can be very easy if you use textbooks (look at the title of the textbook! ) however in other conditions it’s not as simple.

I just got off the telephone with a mom attempting to name an unconventional class. If you are stuck, try to Google a few key words from the course you are making an attempt to name, with the words “course description. ” You’ll come up with a bunch of high school and college class course descriptions that will be similar. Look for the title that best represents your class, and Voila! In this mother’s situation, we determined that “Occupational Education: Restaurant Occupations” was the perfect title for her class.

Are you aware that every week on Facebook I provide you with a video tip of the week for homeschooling high school? Not too long ago I put on Facebook a video tip about Naming High School Classes. If you are on Facebook, make sure you check out my fan page! You can “LIKE” my page, grab my free mini-course known as “The 10 Essentials – What Every Homeschooler Needs to Study Before Graduation”

The HomeScholar’s Total Transcript Solution will take the fear out of homeschool transcripts!

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Homeschooling High School: Complicated Answers Take Time

Homeschooling High School: Complicated Answers Take Time

Some questions are easy to answer.
When is the PSAT?
How do I find a College Fair?
Should my freshman take Physics before Biology?

But other questions are very big, and very complicated.  Sandi asked a big and complicated question on my blog the other day.

Hi Lee. I have 5 kids, 3 remain to be homeschooled. All high school age. My 17 yo has had some issues with seizures since Spring. As a result he has fallen behind somewhat in his work. He will be 18 in Oct and should graduate in June of 2012. How do I catch him up this year? He has fallen behind in math and Eng comp. He has so many credits in all the other subjects. Should I just focus on these 2 subjects this coming year? Also, he wants to go to art school. He has been taking art lessons at a studio who will also help him with a portfolio. He just loves it. Any suggestions you have i would appreciate. ~ Sandi

I would LOVE to help, but each issue is not a simple yes/no question or quick fact.  Instead, each of these issues is complicated.  Here is what I was able to give Sandi.

Dear Sandi,

I have quite a few Gold Care Club members that just need support for handling homeschool while facing unusual issues just like this.   These are complicated issues that can't be answered by a quick email, I'm afraid.  Briefly, here are some options to consider:

Complete high school in 5 years;
Take one more year but only count the final 4 years for high school;
Focus on math and English, but don't double up on those subjects;

Evaluate to see if he is truly behind in those areas, or if you just *think* he is behind;
Find an art school by going to a college fair as a first contact;
Learn about junior year and senior year tasks.
If you find that you need more support, you can get more information about the Gold Care Club here:

I am now a featured expert on!  You can read my articles here.
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Celebrate Homeschool Freedom: Join me on July 7!

Celebrate Homeschool Freedom: Join me on July 7!

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