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How Much to Keep?

December 6, 2012

Melissa is a military mom frustrated by record keeping.  What do you really need to keep?

How much of my kids elementary or middle school paper work do I need to keep?  I have every notebook, every workbook they have done.  We just moved for the third summer in a row and as I moved that stuff, one more time, it got me thinking do I really need to keep all of it?  I have tests and grades in a separate binder, but do I need to keep all their workbooks? ~ Melissa, Military Mom

The volume of records you keep depends on what you want to do with the information.  There are three things you might want, and the answer could be different based on your purpose.

1. Obey state law. 
I always encourage people to obey their state homeschool laws, and it’s possible that you might be asked to keep something while you are homeschooling.  I haven’t heard of any state that requires tons of information, though.  Check your state law to see.  If they DO require information, it’s often just a report card and some test scores.  Beyond that most records can be kept on your computer.  Little tip;  think about what a public school keeps for records from one year to the next.  NOT every piece of paper.  Just a report card and test scores. Regardless of where you move, states can only require you to meet their requirements during the time you are living there, so you still don’t have to keep everything all the time forever.

2. Apply to college. 
When you are keeping records for college application, the situation changes a bit.  You want to have enough information to describe your class in a course description and make a transcript.  That means keeping quite a bit of information, at least until you get those documents done.  Then you want to have some samples of work in each class – a written paper, or math test, for example.  But those are only records required of real high school level classes on the high school transcript, not everything.  You want to have enough information for a reading list and activity list too.  All this information means one thing – you don’t have to keep anything from elementary school or 7th and 8th grade level classes for the purposes of college admission.

3. Keep mementos.  
If you don’t need something for state law, and you don’t need it for college admission, then just do a quick “Do I love it?” check.  If it’s a memento you want to keep, then keep it because you LOVE it – not because it’s homeschooling, but because it  is a reminder of childhood.  Sometimes it’s like keeping their first baby outfit.  It’s not important for “school” but it’s still important to your family.

Let me give you an example. In elementary school I kept a running total of only curriculum tests, and we didn’t use many.  I kept my annual assessments the kids took each year, and our state-required Declaration of Intent to Homeschool.  In middle school, I kept more records as I tried to learn how to homeschool high school.  By the time 9th grade came around, I was keeping one 3-ring notebook of material for each child each year of school, which I condenses into comprehensive homeschool records and course descriptions for college admission.

I hope that helps!

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1 Comment »

  1. Diana says:

    Take photos of large projects (you don’t want to move a salt map around!) especially if you might later put together a portfolio (high school level).

    For that matter, you might want to scan a few pages, from artwork to essays. Keep a few “field trip” photos, ex. student in activity at a Children’s Museum, or moving hay (Agricultural Science).

    My dds’ 4-H Recordbooks provided details used to apply for Community Service scholarships, etc. later. Remember to record community service, not only by date, but hours spent & other measurable details, such as total funds raised.

    Although our homeschool support group was small, we had yearbooks made. Great to have memories of activities, individual and group. Consider digital scrapbooking (if have artistic student, let them do this project!!) And if not, don’t burden yourself. Just keep some photos and “move on.”

    November 16th, 2013 at 9:06 pm

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