Sometimes unschoolers get mixed messages about recordkeeping. States vary on their requirements for homeschoolers – including unschoolers – to maintain various records.
In many states no recordkeeping is required whatsoever.
And in those that do, many do not require that these records be turned in to anyone nor do the specify how the recording should be done.
Of course, check your own state/local group for your laws. But be wary of anyone who thinks doing more than the state requires, is a good idea. It’s not. And for new homeschoolers/unschoolers, recordkeeping often gives the parent a sense of progress or a feeling of protection should anyone ask.
Please don’t let your fears of governmental oversight crowd out your good judgement. It’s a rare case that anyone ever even asks to see these records. (Usually it’s custody battles or legal issues that don’t even pertain to the child.)
Homeschoolers spend a lot of time assigning and recording grades. But since unschoolers don't divide their life into subjects, this typical schoolish activity simply doesn't mesh. Many ways exist to demonstrate that a child is learning.
Some of us do enjoy looking back and seeing progress. Some of our kids (most of them?) like to look back at their own lives and see what they were doing or remember what life was like. Acquiring life skills, personal AND physical growth, social settings, friends and relatives – all make for interesting trips down memory lane later on. Get creative and you can find a fun way to record what’s been going on. You don’t have to spend a lot of money or keep some dry teacher’s record book. Life has so much more to offer than that!
Try some of these:
Journaling about their lives and their activities
It’s nice to have a place to privately record everything that you HOPE you will remember
– Some kids might love to write it themselves, either by hand or on the computer (tips on writing at Pinterest)
– Decorating the cover and/or the pages
– Writing activities down after-the-fact will keep you from using "planning time" as a way to procrastinate. (Ask me how I know THIS one!)
– You could also write activities into a planner or calendar and save them there.
– Look at others on Pinterest (especially under “Art Journals”)
Photo Collection – hard copy or digital
Get memory sticks to take photos off the phone
– Start folders to make it easier to find what you’re looking for
– Stay safe and upload to Flickr, PhotoBucket, SmugMug, plus more options!
– At the end of the year, compile the favorites for an annual book or video montage set to favorite songs.
– Groovebook, Shutterfly, Snapfish are companies that can help you compile your photos quickly (before you’re overrun with boxes from years and years!)
A creative hands-on project to do together – More fun for the artistic types!
Blogging about the family’s adventures
Lots of free blog websites are available. You can see a variety of ways people use blogging to share glimpses into their world.
Writing activities down after the fact in a planner or on a calendar – Perfect for the busy mom who is trying to remember it all
Create a "Secret" Facebook Group
Inviting only family members (or those close friends who want to see everything!), you can upload photos and even leave little blurbs about what was going on, funny things the kids said, what learning you saw.
Another way to record cool things you’ve done, read, seen, explored.
– Create boards for interesting places you visited or want to visit
– Create boards for movies & documentaries you saw or want to see
– Create a board with photos of new creations (foods, crafts, etc)
– Encourage your kids to get their own Pinterest account so it’s easy to share ideas
– Did you know I have an Unschooling Pinterest Board dedicated to recordkeeping? Here's the link
RECORD KEEPING FOR UNSCHOOLERS
Pam has shared this list since the 1990's of ways unschoolers can record learning without resorting to characterizing the information by school subjects.
MAINE HOMESCHOOLING IDEAS AND RESOURCES
A variety of record-keeping options here for meeting legal requirements in the state of Maine.
EDUCATIONESE FOR BEGINNERS
Some states require that parents record what their child is learning. This article is in response to the question, "What DO your kids do all day?"
Showing you CAN unschool even in places that require heavy documentation. Learning does not occurs in neat little segregated boxes or separate from life with special set-aside time devoted to it. However, for the purpose of this blog, Brie categorized the learning that happens naturally in our daily life by the specific subjects required by Pennsylvania's home education laws.
SANDRA DODD'S COLLECTION
If a family lives somewhere that requires their unschooled life be translated into educational language, several unschoolers have offered a variety of ways to do this.
COURSE OF STUDY: ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AGE
A sample of the language some parents need to meet requirements for their state evaluations (All states do NOT have this, so check with locals)
- Parents interpret their unschooled teen's lives into an educational framework and then can create a diploma themselves.
- Google "Homeschool Diploma Template" and you will find examples and templates to use, if needed.
- States vary in what is needed to enter a community college - some require diplomas while others do not.
- Colleges vary in what they are looking for in a high school diploma. Usually, what they're really asking for is a transcript. If your teen is interested in attended a particular school, go to their website and see what course requirements they want to see on a diploma.
- Local and state support groups are a great resource for what is required in your state (states vary)
- Unschooled teens do not have to wrap everything up at the arbitrary age of 18, just to have a diploma.
Relax. There is no deadline.
- If you are concerned about how to translate a full unschooled life into transcript language, contact Wes Beach or Sue Patterson for working with them privately.
Some who love to make lists find the Notes app on their phones to be handy tools. In this sample, one of our group members uses it to help remind the kids how they are learning all the time. The A, B, and N designations are for each child.
Rethinking Subjects and Learning
Sometimes unschoolers need to translate their every day life into subjects or educational jargon for evaluators, records, or maybe even to calm their own fears. We have a quick free PDF with examples of how this can work. Don't panic - it's easy!