I have received quite a few emails lately on how I keep track of homeschool attendance, hours, school work, records etc. I have one word for you today. Binders.

It depends on your state requirements as to what you’re required to keep for homeschooling records. For our state, all I’m required to keep is a record of my hours and what curriculum I used and that’s it. You can find out about your state requirements here: www.hslda.org

For my own conscience though I keep the following for each year:

A Yearly Records Binder:

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This is my yearly binder. It has tabs for all of the items listed below, and I keep it on our shelf in the schoolroom for easy access.

  • Legal Docs: I keep my annual “Notice of Intent to Homeschool” form, or enrollment in an umbrella school, etc. in this portion of my binder.
  • Receipts: I keep all receipts together for things I’ve bought for each school year. We aren’t allowed a tax write off right now, but a girl can dream can’t she? Plus it’s good for budgeting purposes. And it definitely came in handy when I purchased software from Adobe and wanted an educational discount!
  • Lesson Plans : I print out our lesson plans from Homeschool Tracker each week. During the week we cross things off as they’re completed, then I add them to my records binder. I have dividers that separate out the lesson plans for each child to make it easy.
  • Record Keeping Software: Right now I use Homeschool Tracker to keep track of our hours, and it will print out all kinds of reports, hours, attendance, grades and lesson plans to name a few. Best part, it’s FREE! (When you go to their website, click on “The Basic Edition” and you’ll be taken to the free version.) Another option, Homeschool Skedtrack, is one that I haven’t used, but a friend recommended it to me. It’s an online record keeping site and is also free.
  • Spoiler Alert: I say “right now” in regards to my software because my husband is currently working on a software program for me to store all of this stuff. Hopefully one that is super easy to use, effective in purpose, and maybe even pretty if I can swing it!

Here’s a view of my binder with tabs. This year we are participating in an options program that offers elective type activities for my kiddos. I keep all of the papers etc for that as well as all of the above listed items in this binder.

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Student Work Binders: I get a 3” – 3 ring binder for each child each year. It has dividers that separate each subject and I file our work in the binder as it’s completed. Ie: tabs for Math, Language, Phonics, Spelling, Art (I only keep stuff that fits), Science; Handwriting. The below binders are 3” binders, they store quite a bit of work. And I keep the current year’s binders on our shelves in our homeschool room for easy access.

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(Click here to download an MSWord 2010 editable version of my 3″ spine labels.)

Crafts: Most art projects hang around in our room on a clothesline type display, then I toss them as we put up new ones. Harsh I know, but I’m so not a packrat and besides, there are pictures of everything on my blog, so that’s my consolation.

Work in progress:

I have the kids put their completed work each day in stack-able file trays. They go by age, so the top one is Strawberry Shortcake’s work, then Turbo’s, Tinker’s, and finally the Teeny Tot’s work. Once those get full…or whenever I think about it... I take the papers and put them into the binders. That way at the end of the year I’m not having to go through mounds of paperwork.

Also, I don’t put work in these trays until they’re graded. Right now it’s easy for me to grade things on the spot as they’re working, so when they finish something, they’ll hand it to me. I’ll either grade it immediately, and hand it back, or set it on my desk until I have a free minute then grade it. They are all required to correct any mistakes that day before their school is considered done for the day.

Once it’s grade and entered into my computer it goes in these files.

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Long Term Storage:

Previously, I have stored all of our yearly work binders in the basement on shelves. Now that we’re up to 4th grade, the shelves are getting full. I will probably change from storing the binders to just taking out all of the work and using heavy rubber bands to keep the years work together then storing them in file boxes. I’m not actually required to keep all of their work however I do…just in case…you never know.

So that’s my storage plan, for now anyhow. I’m sure as the amount of bulk increases, and my tolerance for clutter decreases, the mounds of school work may start making its way out the door. But until then I’ll be keeping our work.

You can visit the www.hslda.org website to find out about requirements in your state.

33 Comments

  1. Thankfully in Texas the home school laws don’t require attendance records, portfolios etc. Just have to pursue a “bonified curriculum.” -Makes me so thankful for enjoying a simple home school life with my three kids here in Texas. It looks like you might write your own curriculum though, that’s neat (new to the blog by the way).

    Leesa
  2. I’m curious if you know of a program similar program to the Homeschool Tracker that will work with a Mac. I really need something to help me. Even a iPad app would help!

    As always great tips and feeling like I really really need to step things up the next few months!

    1. I just did a live chat with Homeschool Tracker bc I’m having the same problem too and no, the program was designed for windows only. I would really like to find a similar program or my mac.

      Amanda
  3. I love how organized and together everything looks! I am the polar opposite, lol. I tried to be organized when I first started homeschooling, but it didn’t take as well as I would have liked. 😀

    Fortunately, the program we use for our core (Time4Learning) does pretty much all of my record keeping. I just print out monthly reports of everything my boys have done, and throw those reports in a binder. Super easy! That’s about all I keep in a binder. I keep an electronic copy of my Declaration of Intent, and my monthly attendance records, on my external hard drive. I also have a file folder in my computer for photos of each boys’ school year. Pictures from art projects, science experiments, field trips, etc., go into their file folders.

    Other than those reports, and photos, each boy has a box. Yep, a box. Anything that doesn’t go in a binder or in a folder on my computer, goes in the box, lol.

    I did love reading this, and I’m looking forward to checking back and reading more about your snazzy new customized software program! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing,
    Katie

  4. I would probably consider putting your papers for each year between cardboard covers then bind them with those brass prong things(pardon me for not knowing the name at the moment) or maybe just bing them with a tie of twine through holes on the edge. Rubber bands sound like a disaster to me. Thanks for this post;)

    Stephanie fulton
  5. Hi Erica,
    I just got the homeschool tracker and I am learning how to input everything but I can’t find where to put in daily lesson plans. Is this the program you use? If so, where can I find where to input and print weekly lesson plans.
    Thank you for all of your great tips. You’ve helped us make the decision to homeschool all of our kids next school year and it’s amazing all of the helpful things you have on this website.
    Candi

    Candi
  6. Hi Erica,

    I’m not sure if you’ve mentioned this in a previous post at all but I was wondering if you do your lesson plans week to week or to do you prepare all your lesson plans in advance? I tried doing them in advanced and found that I have to go and make so many chances because of things that come up and it’s more frustrating….just wondering how you plan your lesson whether in advance or not.

    thanks
    Jen

    jen
  7. Thank you for sharing. Love your blog!
    How do you store the completed work in the binders? Do you 3-hole punch everything or put it in envelopes or…? Would love to see a picture of how you do it 🙂

    Michelle
  8. Hi! What state are you in? I’m planning on homeschooling my 6 year old and my 3 almost 4 year old in the fall. From what I read, and understand, there aren’t any record keeping laws where I am, I’m in Kansas. If I’m wrong, do you know how to connect with others in my state? I’ve also been on your blog the past 3 days and love everything on it!

    Chaylin

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