First of all be legal. In the state of Mississippi we are required to complete a Certificate of Enrollment each year. Keep a copy of this, even if it’s just a photo. If you received a verification letter, keep those as well for each child, for each year.
Recording what each child has been taught each year in each subject is also a good idea. It can be a simple spreadsheet or a handwritten record. The most important thing is to keep it updated each year so you don’t forget what has been taught. You never know when you might need it. You can list as much information as you want to keep track of including a final grade, if you assigned grades, or how well your child responded to the curriculum or your thoughts on it. Below is a sample.
|1st||Saxon Math 1||Explode the Code Book 2-4||Mystery of History Vol 1||Apologia Botany||City League Soccer|
|2nd||Saxon Math 2||Explode the Code Book 5-7||Mystery of History Vol 2||Apologia Zoology 1||Piano Lessons &|
City League Soccer
The above sample notes for elementary are entirely sufficient and require no other records for the state of Mississippi. In fact it is more than what is required. It is better to have a list and your thoughts on it however, just in case any questions arise as to the fact that you are indeed homeschooling your child.
MS does not require that you submit any pages or grades to the state. However it is not a bad idea to keep any tests, major papers, and projects. If you grade and you used it to compute a grade, you probably ought to keep it. You decide what documents generate grades and IF you even grade during the early years.
Once students get to high school grading becomes mandatory because regardless of your philosophy, colleges require a transcript. If your student intends to go to college, then you must grade throughout high school. It entirely depends on your personality as a teacher and what your state requires.
Grading can be as meticulous or as general as you prefer, even in high school. It could be as simple as averaging the quiz & test grades or grading a final research paper to give an overall grade for that subject or it could be grading every sheet of paper that comes across your desk. In Mississippi we have the freedom to wait until the end of the year and judge their work as a whole based on a final exam or final project.
Now that we have entered the digital age, a great way to keep those daily work papers is via pdf. There are several apps that can be used as PDF scanners on your smart phone or tablet like the free one, Adobe Scan. Set up a free Dropbox account and create a folder for each child. Within each child’s folder, create a folder for each grade. Now you can scan it via a smart phone or tablet and directly save it to their folder. Do the same thing for dioramas, science projects, etc. Document the work with photos and save them to a folder for the child. If space is a premium in your house this is one of the best ways to keep it forever. It is also one of the easiest ways to transmit the records if you move to another state that requires them. For a more in depth look at record keeping see this article posted at HSLDA.
A great way to back up all your records and validate your home education is to have your child standardize test. Keep these test results in your records. There are online options available as well as in person options available through various home school organizations. There is even one you can facilitate at home and grade yourself. Below is list of some of the more popular online and self facilitated tests. Check with various homeschool organizations for “grouped” tests.
Hewitt Homeschool PASS Testing
CAT Test (California Achievement Test)
For more in depth information on standardized testing for homeschoolers, check out what HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense) has to say in this article.
A more extensive list of standardized testing services and options can be found here, by Cathy Duffy.