Real-Life Homeschool Record-Keeping & Organizing:


10 Reasons to Keep Records



by Barbara Edtl Shelton



The article below is for

homeschoolers with any age child(ren),

but if you are interested

primarily in HIGH SCHOOL,

please see this resource:


Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+la it is the ultimate resource in

record-keeping (that *I* offer) for the

high school years, and the 120+ forms in it

are now available electronically, on CD!

(Click here.)


However, "Form+U+la" is much MORE

than merely "record-keeping"; it also:


is foundational to HOW to homeschool

through high school...


helps you get over those nagging, debilitating

fears, and it...


helps you understand and see the

"bigger picture" of WHY homeschool

through high school!!!





OK!  Let's begin our discussion of

"10 Reasons to Keep Records"!!!

(A subject that is near and

dear to my heart!)




To get your toes wet, read through the following list.  This is NOT a checklist!  Some will apply to some folks; others to other folks.  Everyone is different, with differing priorities, personalities, and styles.   I will be explaining these further later in this article, after the foundation has been laid, to help you discern which of these do ~ and don't ~ apply to you!


 3 - SHOW 'N' TELL



If this list makes you feel a bit intimidated,    then you are one who REALLY needs to read this whoooole article!  ~  Don't stop now, overwhelmed, because ~ really and truly ~ it only gets better! 


The first thing you need to know is that record-keeping doesn't have to be a big deal. The only time it becomes an issue is when you personally have reason to regret you didn't do it ~ whatever form "it" happens to take.  And that's what I'm here to help you figure out!    And, of course, if you live in a state that requires record keeping of some sort, you will regret not doing it sooner than others might. 


Many think that, just because they don’t live in a state that requires record keeping, they don’t have any reason to do it.  In reality, they may be keeping themselves from blessings of many sorts by not considering this further than just state laws.  So let's explore three possible reasons people avoid record keeping:





We'll start with the very foundation of most record keeping: WRITING.  Some people just plain hate to write down anything!  Their thoughts. The grocery list.  Letters.  Quick notes in cards.  They just plain hate writing of any kind! This may be due to three possible factors:


     1 - They have "Expressaphobia Inferiorita" – typified by severe feelings of inferiority each time the sufferer attempts to express his thoughts on paper, usually because he feels his ideas are at the kindergarten level, and therefore putting them in black and white serves only to confirm what one is certain everyone in the world already knew - that one is stupid!


     2 - Others have "Preferencia Scribia Dysfunction" You'd simply rather be doing something else. Anything else!  Besides writing!  This one is not that big of a deal, but you do have a particularly severe case of this ailment if even cleaning toilets, unclogging a stinky sink, or cleaning out a fridge that hasn't been cleaned in six months sound better to you than writing!


     3 - And still others have "Wounded Hand Syndrome" – which would be a prior injury to the writing hand, or arthritis, resulting in pain upon writing. This actually happened to our son. When he was four, a heavy board fell on his writing hand, resulting in pain, both short-term and long-term, for many years to come.  The interesting thing was how, even five years later, he couldn't write letters and numbers for more than two minutes straight without severe pain, but yet he could write or draw pictures for hours at a time!  Hmmmm; I never quite figured that one out!  Perhaps it was a miracle?  





You may also be frustrated or overwhelmed by the scope of record-keeping being soooo broad!  It's true; there are many reasons to keep records, many methods and styles by which to keep records, and many things to keep records of!  What can give you a headache boils down to two things:



not knowing your options


not knowing your own priorities



Good news!  There's a solution for both of these!  My intent is to help you determine what your priorities are and to offer you some options that will best fulfill your priorities...


(Quick side note for those who have any of my books:  As you look at all the forms contained in my various books, please do not think of this as anything but a smorgasbord full of choices and options!  What I present was never intended to be the Ultimate Goal or any kind of a check-off list!)


What makes our fears even worse is when we hear:  "and as long as you keep good records"!  If you're like most moms who already have their days full to overflowing with laundry, dishes, meals, managing kids' schedules, changing diapers, and educating their kids on top of all that, you might respond to that statement with:  "Great!  So you're saying that keeping records in and of itself isn't enough!  Now I've got to keep GOOD records!  And I don't even know which records to keep or how much of them to keep!


Let me encourage you!  Once, with God's help, you have narrowed it down and determined your reasons for keeping records and what things you want to keep records of, and you've take a little time to study some different methods and forms (such as what I present in my books), the intimidation will subside!


I've found the best way to deal with my "fears" is to look at them straight in the face with Jesus standing right there with me to speak truth into the matter. So what "fears" might be present here?  I could think of only a few HORROR SCENARIOS of when you might fear ~ or regret ~ the results of not having kept "good records."  They are when or if…


PROBLEM #1:  Your child (re-)enters conventional school and you need something to indicate his level of accomplishment.


SOLUTION:  The public school has to take your child, so the worst that can happen here is that they could put your child into a lower grade than what he or she is actually capable of; younger than their age. But if your child aces everything in that grade he is going to be bored, and this is not in the best interest of teacher, class (cuz most children do not just sit there nicely when bored; they either act up or, if they're like I was, they talk!  So your child would most likely be put where he belongs later on.  ...  If you want to put your child back into a private school the same could happen, but the worst thing that could happen is that they could refuse to accept your child, period. But that's not in their best interest!  Christian schools are generally wanting for enrollees!  So it's highly likely that they'll be more than glad to work with you... But if you have no plans of ever putting your child into school, then, guess what, this fear is unfounded!  (Poof!  Out the window!)  Once your child hits college level, the college will have a placement test they'll require them to take anyway, which would override any records from any school. And once a person has taken classes at a community college, the need to show a diploma diminishes.


PROBLEM #2:  Your kids, after having spent an afternoon at Rhonda Recordsmith's, ask you where all their homeschool report cards, self-made booklets, schoolwork samplers, and homeschool photo albums are.


SOLUTION:  Stay away from her house (I'm sure she has plenty of friends), or get spiritual and remind your kids that their true treasure is being stored for them in Heaven. And it's likely that God has some sort of 3-D videos of their stuff and even them doing their stuff!  ...  On the redemptive side, still on earth, remember that it's never too late to start clicking that camera, or to take the photos you have and start making them into specialized booklets. I'll be sharing a few ideas here, but my Booklet Building Book contains many ideas and forms for guiding your child into making these, just one page at a time!  Much of what I have done, especially the baby books, I put together many years after the photos were taken and memorabilia collected. I have file folders, boxes, and large plastic zip-lock baggies that I just stuff all these goodies into as I go along. I still have "Beyond Baby Books" and family photo albums I need to put together C someday, when I have time, I'll do that! ...  Or...


PROBLEM #3:  Your child comes to you and asks for something to do and you start going through the craft (or recipe) book and, for project after project, you have all the needed items or ingredients you need, except ONE!  And you were even downtown yesterday, in the very store that carried that "one item"!  But alas! You hadn't planned that far ahead!


SOLUTION:  See my record-keeping forms in The Jumpstart Navigator (if you have kids age 12 and under) or in Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+la, or the same ones, in sets, on CD.





Let's now go over “10 Reasons to Keep a Record or Make a Chart” more in depth for several reasons you might want to keep records.  Remember, it is NOT intended to be overwhelming, as most people will never have ALL of these reasons, but rather this is intended only to help you discern your own priorities and what will be most helpful for your style, your kids, and your strengths and weaknesses.


You might want to either put a checkmark next to each one you value (assuming you have printed it out), or assign your own numbers to each of these, (in the little box), rating them in order of how much or how little they concern you. Start with the one that would make the most difference in your current "well-being."  So let’s go ahead and go over these:


 ¨ 1 - BE PREPARED AND ORGANIZED -  in how your home operates and in presentation of lesson work on a daily basis. You're on top of it, not it on top of you!  Helps you prepare for the academics you want to teach; have materials on hand for creative projects that you OR the kids initiate.
¨ 2 - DOCUMENTED EVIDENCE  -  Something to show that "education" is taking place. Who would want or have good reason to know this? College? Grandparents? School officials? Legal/Court? Applying for a scholarship? ... I testified in a court case that made me very thankful I had kept good records, but not everyone will need this. 
¨ 3 - SHOW 'N' TELL  -  Show other homeschoolers what worked (or didn't work) for you and your kids. Newer homeschoolers like (and are wise) to learn from the experience and mistakes of those who have done and are doing it.
¨ 4 - NOSTALGIC VALUE  -  Records of this nature enable you to hold onto memories, parents' or kids,' giving you something to reminisce with in years to come. Appealing to those of us who are "historians" at heart! 

      Let’s take a quick detour down Shelton's Memory Lane…  We cleaned out our storage shed some time ago and ran across memorabilia of our earlier homeschool days with Sharnessa and Tory, who were 17 and 16 at the time of this cleaning. We found booklets they'd made; Homeschool Report Cards; Certificates of Promotion I'd made for them; art and written work all neatly packaged up and labeled; Family Night awards we'd made for each other; Finance Record Booklets with records of money saved, spent and tithed. There were lots of delighted "Oh-look! Remember-this's" flying around the shed along with all the disrupted dust that afternoon.  Carlianne, our then-almost-8-year-old youngest, who until then hadn't wanted to bother much with writing, shifted into this mega-creative mode in the days after that shed-cleaning, and started creating all sorts of wonderful booklets and other clever creations. After a few days of this, I asked her, "Carlianne, are you by any chance making all these wonderful creations because you saw all the stuff Sharnessa and Tory made, and now you want to make sure that when you're their age, you too will have some fun stuff to go through and treasure, like they do?"  Embarrassed and astonished at my insight, but nonetheless delighted, she buried her face in her hands, and said, "Oh Mommy! You figured me out!"
¨ 5 - BRAIN UNLOADER - I need to get my accumulating ideas, thoughts, and goals OUT of my brain and ONTO paper, or I carry around the annoying weight of having to TRY to remember them which I seldom ever CAN! This is a great burden-lifter for me; unboggles my mind, freeing it up to move onto other things!
¨ 6 - DISCERN & EVALUATE PROGRESS - This type of tool helps you see where you've been and what has been accomplished and  mastered so you can re-evaluate where you're going and what to do next, what to emphasize, and what to eliminate.
¨ 7 - DIRECTION and VISION - See and know the overall picture of where you're headed; what you want your child to walk out your front door equipped with and prepared for. Of course, this must align with God's plan for your child's future, how He wants to use him and his unique giftings. 
¨ 8 - PRIVILEGE-REGULATOR - A way to balance privilege with responsibility, to have "gentle accountability." Especially helpful if you have more  than one child and it's hard to "keep track."
¨ 9 - GLEAN MORE FROM REAL-LIFE SITUATIONS - The "Learning Guides" I have designed are to help you direct your student to get more out of real-life learning experiences, lessons, or activities. They can be wonderful records of real-life-related work done by your child. (See The Booklet Building Book and Section IV of Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+la" and Section IV of Lab Science: The How, Why, What, Who, 'n' Where Book")
¨ 10 - PORTFOLIO MATERIAL - These are items that can be part of or included in a creative, well-presented, well-rounded portfolio. You want it to represent your student's progress, accumulated knowledge, and/or expertise in a particular area.




What REALLY matters?


You'll never stop being a Mom. But, at some point in time, you will stop being a homeschooling mom. (And you'll receive those words with either a sigh of relief or a tear of sadness depending on what kind of day you're having with the kids.)  Ask yourself:  What will matter then? ~ the day after your youngest graduates from homeschool?  (or whatever event marks the end of homeschooling for you?)  Try to project ahead to that day when the house is quiet except for the tick-tick-ticking of the clock and the creak of the old rocker; when the dust has settled and you are alone with the memories are hidden away in your heart. What will matter then?...


What will you think back on and be glad you did with your child(ren)?  What will you wish you had done in those years you had at home with your children?  Three thoughts surface in my mind…  I know I will want to have:


~ preserved the priceless memories ~ the ones they'll deem valuable and the ones I will deem valuable. And I'll want to have...


~ prepared records that will serve as a "torch" to pass on to those who become my children's next educators. Though, to be honest, my children themselves will be the true "test"!  The records may be useful in opening doors. But I believe that if God wants a door opened, He will open it regardless of my naivety or knowledge, or lack thereof.



But, you know what?  I have to confess that at times in my past many years of homeschooling I've spent too much time doing the above two things at the expense of this third, most important reason for record keeping of all. This reason rests a bit deeper, under the dust in my heart; and once I blow on it, and let the cloud settle, I know I'll be most thankful for the...


~ time I spent learning with, talking with, teaching, training, ministering to, and just plain enjoying and laughing with my kids.


... And I know I'll wish I'd done more of this last one. The key, as with so many other things in our Christian walk, is balance!  But balance alone can't be our guide, because it's not a matter of "equal time" for each area. Balance must be under subjection to vision. Specifically, the vision God has given you for your family. If we want to get where He wants to take us, we must ask Him for His vision, and wait for His direction, not just jumping on the first ~ or most “acclaimed” or popular ~ curriculum wagon that comes along for fear that nothing else, perhaps nothing "better" or "safer" or more "scope-and-sequence-approved" will come along soon enough. Not that God will reveal the whole picture and all of the specific outworkings of it to us in one lump; He never has for me. But He is more than glad to reveal His will to us and give us vision as we go along, unfolding as much as we need to walk in His paths of righteousness ~ for now.


There is never any reason ~ or record ~ good enough to risk losing the whole purpose of why God called us to homeschool. My own feeling is that even a college scholarship wouldn't be worth it. Admission to the most "elite" or hoped-for colleges wouldn't be.


Some time ago, a homeschooling mom called me expressing second thoughts about their decision to homeschool through high school. Their son would be starting ninth grade the next year. He had decided to go into law enforcement and they had been told by someone who was "in the know" that good report cards and transcripts were important.  "Maybe this really isn't for us after all," she told me."  I said, "Mary (pseudo-name), I would hate to see you forfeit these next four precious years of your son's education to a much-inferior experience just because you wanted a "good report card and transcript"!  … These were really neat people who were already homeschooling and doing a good job!  …  I had NO idea at the time that my own son ~ who until just over a year ago had never expressed a single thought about going into law enforcement ~ would end up as a police officer! Tory was in the process of applying to be a police officer and called me saying he needed a HIGH SCHOOL TRANSCRIPT!!!!  He had NEVER, in the 5 years since he graduated from high school (our homeschool) needed to use or show a transcript at any educational or occupational institution!!  Here I write a book on all this stuff, and yet never needed it!  So what a treat for me!!!!!!   ;-D   I got right to work on a new revision of it, and have included it in the High School Record-Keeping Forms. (See the red clipboard (or CD with the same title) on this page.)



So what is the ultimate solution?   


In my mind it is to hear God for your unique child!  And for your unique family.  What purposes does God want to accomplish and work out in the  life of your student(s)?  What good works has He prepared beforehand that your child may walk in them?  How can he or she best be prepared for those good works?  What kinds of records will be needed for our unique children, for you personally as the mom (and Dad) God chose for your children.  That’s what I’d love to help you determine for your own family…

What I about to present in my Real-life Homeschool Record-Keeping Seminar (for younger kids, age 12 and under) is NOT a bunch of “TO DO’s” that, to be an “Ultimate Homeschooler,” you are expected to duplicate in one form or another in your own home.  Far from it, this is just a SMORGASBORD from which you can pick and choose what will work for you, and for the purposes YOU (and you alone) determine are important to you! 


Remember, in these younger years there is little, if any pressure regarding record-keeping.  (In the high school years it’s different because of the possibility of college and scholarships.  If a student knows they are not going to college, then again, the pressure subsides.)



What to DO with all this?!?! 


If you are an "on-your-own-er" and now have all the help you need to "do the above" ~ whichever points you are feeling the need for ~ then you need read no further.  But if you are needing to start homeschooling now ~ or get more record-keeping order to what you are currently doing ~ and you are interested in finding out more about the tools that *I* (Barb Shelton) have written to help you carry out "all the above," then here are the links to them:


FOR HIGH SCHOOL & JUNIOR HIGH:  Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+la is THE place to start.  It even has a "Jumpstart Plan" at the very beginning of the book to help you get jumpstarted into the system.  And then all the needed forms for carrying out this "lite, do-able" plan ~ using resources in your own home and other forms in the book ~ are right there IN the same book!


FOR USE WITH CHILDREN AGE 12 & UNDER:  The Homeschool Jumpstart Navigator - (See the write-up on that page for more about this!)





I got the graph paper wallpaper at:

...the navy weave background at:

... the animated spotlight from Jo's World at:


...and the Family Photo book is from:

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