Using a homeschool journal for your working child
For the actor child, homeschooling is often done between takes and in between scenes. Where a typical homeschooler would have a scheduled and predictable routine that a parent can recap at the end of the week or month, a working homeschooler will need to keep track of all those learning moments in between the action of their busy lives.
Personally, I like to purchase a colorful journal notebook for each grade year and free-form write in it as the day/week/month goes on, but there is still a format I follow to make retrieving information easy. For illustration, here is a typed sample:
Journal entries can be as formal or informal as the curriculum used or the subject matter. An entry can be as detailed as to include textbook page numbers and scores on a quiz or test. An entry can be as informal as stating hours spend reading whatever book title or time spent drawing species of butterflies. It’s your journal, you need to figure out what works for you. Just keep in mind that you need to add the subject, what was worked on, and how long you worked on it.
As the child gets older, I like to switch to google docs. I create a document for the subject, then invite the child to the doc, where they see their assignments due. They can calculate their time spent, insert the date, and even answer test questions on the same page.
I started out loading several assignments at a time to the document so the children weren’t waiting on me to complete the work. Eventually, as they requested a full syllabus for the year, so they could accelerate and/or pace themselves.
Both of these journal approaches keeps children accountable for completing their work. They can’t just say that they did it, they have to show you they did. Websites such as Khan Academy will show the mastered and completed units. Quiz answers are entered directly onto the document so you can check it and assign grades. All other assignments are emailed to the parent (you can set up a special account just for schoolwork) and if it isn’t received, it is not done. This eliminated a lot of stress and disagreements in our home.
When we were putting together our children’s portfolios for college entry, I found that these journals and google documents were useful for both the actor child and the non-actor child. Some colleges wanted special information from homeschoolers such as the number of hours spent studying each subject, list of the subject matter studied, and grade calculations. By having this information readily available in the journal, calculation is quick.
Andrea Hermitt is a veteran homeschooler who has taught her two children from early elementary through high school. Both were accepted into several colleges and received scholarships. One holds a Bachelors degree, and one has a Masters degree. Ms. Andrea, as she is affectionately known, counsels homeschooling parents in setting up a program that works for their children, and helps students work toward their college goals.