If there’s one thing I know about homeschooling, it’s that learning happens all of the time! Not just Monday through Friday. Not just between the hours of eight am and three pm.
No, learning happens before six in the morning, and sometimes even after midnight in the evening. It happens at the table, under the table, in the garage, in the car, or at the grocery store.
Take this morning, for instance.
Today is a sort-of weekend for our family. We stayed up late last night doing some celebrating over a blessed event, so this morning we are taking a little longer getting the basics done (such as cleaning up after breakfast and getting ready for the day–could be I am typing this in my nightgown, but no one will ever know ;)). No matter, we are also streaming weather maps and coverage of hurricane Irma, political issues, even little known historical facts about American history and a live speech from the president.
Besides eventually getting to the basics of the day, the kids are journaling, reading, and going about all sorts of activities that are off the “curriculum” but are still legitimate learning.
In fact, there is probably not a place in our house or during any given day where some kind of learning is not happening. This is the best, greatest (and most natural) way, and we know this because we as bright adults are also gathering, calculating, categorizing, and harnessing new information almost daily (aren’t we?).
Here is the problem; the hours our children at home are learning all of this wonderful stuff are not being counted as “school.”
We know how to write down how many pages we have covered, or how many hours we have spent learning about the planets or American history, but we have trouble keeping track of the spontaneous discussion we had while examining a beetle we found creeping across the driveway after we returned from the bank, or the conversation the kids overheard when the neighbor came over and talked about his visit to Hawaii, or Washington D. C., or India.
Most of us don’t even recognize these events as learning, but they most definitely are. These are the very things that enrich and cement all of that time we spend copying and calculating at the dinner table.
They deserve to be recorded and counted. But how?
Well, there is actually a wonderfully simple, cheap (free) way to do this, and I want to show you how and give you a tool you can do it with.
I developed this method of record-keeping back in 2003. At that time there were 12 children in the house, and I was carrying number 13. I was rearing ages from one to seventeen, and there were two young adults with us who were attending college. Life was almost frantically busy, so I had to find ways to streamline on every level.
I prayed, and I thought, and finally I had a picture in my mind of what I needed. However, I didn’t quite know how to create what I envisioned so that it could be printed out and copied. That’s when I took out a legal pad and gathered a black pen and a ruler and made a template of what turned out to be one of the best homeschooling forms I have ever created.
I wanted to share this over and over with my readers, and I actually attempted to include a crude sample in a planner I created, but there was one hitch that was difficult to overcome; creating a header row with slanted lines. Since I knew it was time to share it with all of you, I knew I had to solve this problem, so I searched the Internet for answers and came up with a big, fat zero.
So I told the Lord, “You know how to do this!” and forged away with Microsoft Publisher. In just a few minutes I had the answer–praise His name! I was able to do what everyone said was impossible, just in a less direct (but really easy) way.
Here is the result:
The line, “learning as we live” is the one I found on a folder containing the original sheets from 2003. I thought it would be perfect to include in this set.
How do you use them?
Here is a quick run-down:
- Activitiy: This is the place you write a quick description of someone did on his/her own, or something you did together. It could be almost anything, from building a sandcastle to writing a letter to the President of the United States to finishing a calculus lesson.
- Initials: If you have lots of children to keep track of, this is where you show just who was doing what. If your two oldest children went on a bike hike, write the description in “activity” and write their initials here (if your children have first names that begin with the same initial, you could use the initial of their middle names). If everyone participated, you could simply write “ALL.”
- Time: This is where you write down the amount of time spent on an activity. In some states we are required to spend a certain amount of hours each day in instruction, so this is where you can record the time. Also, when filling out transcripts this can be a handy tool.
- The subjects: I created this portion so that we could track what subject areas are being covered by our daily activities. For instance, if a child is taking care of making change at a garage sale, shouldn’t that be counted as math? It could also be “life,” and “outings/service.” Mowing the lawn is service and life, but it is also physical activity. Church is Bible and life, it is also language arts and outings/service (if your church does a lot of foreign outreach, it could also be “world studies”). I simply put a check mark in every box that I believe is appropriate for the activity I have recorded.
- Notes: This is the place you can get more specific or jot down something as a memory. I put a little number to the left of the activity I want to notate and then put that same number in the notes section where I elaborate.
Oh, and don’t forget to put the date you start your page on the top.
I created these pages so they can be comfortably three-hole-punched. You could easily put them in a three-ring binder, but that’s not my preferred method. What I like to do is to take one of those three-pronged folders that you can purchase cheaply at the school sales and place about 10 or so in there. This way they are a bit more portable, so I can do my recording while sitting with my husband or waiting for someone in the car.
I have a number of pretty dog-eared ones that I have saved, as you can see here:
Here are also a few of the pages made with my original forms:
Here is a page I did with the new forms I am sharing with you today:
Also, if you print on only one side of the paper and put them in some sort of folder or binder, you can use the back of the previous page to journal, as you can see here:
And that’s it! Easy as can be, super cheap, and it will aid in reporting to officials or just showing the in-laws that, yes, we really do learn every day!