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It all starts with a baby book. From the moment your child comes into the world, you begin recording everything. Their first steps. The first words they say. Then you decide to homeschool. Record kicks into overdrive. If you’re a sentimental mom, how do you know what to keep and what to throw away not to keep?

What’s the Goal of Record Keeping?

Because we’re so used to keeping every. little. thing. when it comes to our kids, it’s important to keep the goal of record keeping in mind. Why do we keep a record of anything? And why do we keep a record of learning for our children?

Our primary goal in keeping a record of our child’s learning is so we can remember. But what do we want to remember? For the sentimental mom, we want to remember everything. But remembering everything quickly leads to overwhelm. As a result, we’re awash in too many mementos. Our goal needs to be simpler. Maybe we should only keep those things that will be important for someone else to see–not just mom’s eyes.

What Records Do Other People Want to See?

I’ll warn you ahead of time, this might be hard on you, sentimental mama. Because you’re used to keeping everything, you have not learned to sort out what’s most important. Maybe a checklist of common things that tutors, spouses, and state authorities might like to see in your portfolio can guide you. Keep things simple.

First of all, don’t worry. You can still keep those things that are dearest to your heart. Probably just not in your homeschool portfolio. That’s what your hope chest is for.

Our goal here is to keep only the things that demonstrate progress. Because we’re not using our portfolio as a “best of work” storage place, having the ability to record in the moment is super helpful. It can also be a good guide for you. Ask yourself, “Would I take a picture of this?” If the answer is yes, then it’s probably a good thing to record.

A Checklist of What to Keep and What Not to Keep

  • Student’s Bio. In addition to basic information such as name and date of birth, I like to include a section for student interests and milestones. This is an opportunity to provide a big picture view of your student.
  • An attendance sheet. Of course, this doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Depending on your own state, it can be as simple as a calendar with days checked off and hours logged.
  • A yearly scope and sequence overview. Provided you use an overview of your year, this is an excellent thing to keep in your portfolio. If you don’t write one yourself, you could take a picture or make a copy of one from your lesson plans.
  • A Book List. Keeping a list of all materials used, including textbooks, literature choices, and free reading is helpful in determining if the materials used are reflective of the child’s grade level.
  • A weekly checklist. For the purpose of demonstrating progress, homeschoolers can create a weekly checklist of work completed.
  • Assessments. Albeit not all homeschooling families take part in assessments, those that do will want to include these in their portfolios.

Thinking Practically but Sentimentally

For the purpose of record keeping, thinking practically is going to be your best guide in choosing what to include in your portfolio. Keep in mind things that are truly necessary and use the checklist to help you. You may not be perfect at it when you start out, and it might be difficult to let some things go, but keep your eye on the prize — which is a quality homeschool portfolio both you and your child can be proud to call their own.

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