10 Simple Steps for Documenting Homeschool Progress, Part II

(Previously published in SPED-Homeschool, August 2023)

Documenting your child’s progress throughout your home education journey is like collecting treasures along the beach. However, it can and should serve as much more than an academic record of progress. It offers a recollection of how your child has grown in a variety of ways. Most importantly, it provides one with a glimpse into who your child is, who he is becoming, and who he might become. I like to look at it as a way to honor your child – so cherish the process!

Last week, I shared some of my personal favorites and today, here are some more!

  • Reading Response Notebooks can be used for literature – The teacher can pose questions and the student may answer. Or the student may simply write (dictate) a retelling/summary of the story. Again, this informs you as to how much the child remembers about the story and specific comprehension strategies. Does the child understand cause/effect relationships; is he/she inferring the hidden meaning; is he/she able to sequence the key events properly? If challenges present, then you can reteach those concepts. These are great teaching opportunities!
  • Checklists/Lists – Keep a checklist or make a list of books read, words mastered, vocabulary completed, math facts reviewed, etc. Checklists can be your best friend and a quick glance can provide you with an idea of what has been achieved and what still needs to be done.
  • Calendar – Use a monthly calendar to notate which skills or strategies were taught/learned on specific days. Use different colors to notate whether a skill was taught, reviewed, mastered, etc.
  • Assessment Grids/Rubrics – Follow a grid or rubric to ensure that specific skills have been completed and/or mastered. For example, using a Scope & Sequence rubric for phonemic awareness, phonetic analysis, or math skills is an efficient way of keeping track of these skills.
  • Formats – What evidence do you have that your student has mastered the objective?

 A video, photograph, experiment, illustration, essay, or test may be used to assess the understanding of a concept or the ability to apply a skill.

  • Be creative and offer your child choices. For example, after studying lightning, provide a list of products the student may create to “show” their understanding. Your child may conduct an experiment and explain the process, illustrate the process by labeling with key words, or perhaps they can even “act out” a lightning storm while describing the phases.
  • Storage – Keep all such documentation in one place. I liked keeping all of my kids’ artifacts in a large plastic bin. What you store them in does not matter. Keeping the documentation is what is important. Keep copies of any type of informal tests, formal evaluations, or standardized testing. These can be placed in a notebook, binder, or box.

Remember that assessment and documentation of such should only occur when and if it serves to inform your instruction. It is then that the teacher should craft his/her instruction to ensure proper skill application and concept understanding. Otherwise, it is meaningless.

How many tests or assignments have been given to students and the results carefully documented, without a mere mention as to what went wrong, why it went wrong, or how it can be corrected?  It is when such questions are examined and used to promote more effective instruction, that assessment and documentation become valuable.

And only then can you truly honor your child, as well as your journey.