Record Keeping is an area I have struggled with for many years and have gradually come to an overview and direction that I am happy with. At the end of the year, we go through all the paperwork that the children have generated and file it all away. So now is a good time for me to take note of my thoughts and system.
I see my childrens studies fall into two categories. There are the studies that come from a passion that I can see within my childs heart. I call these life long studies. Though they may not in fact last for their whole life they will have an impact on their life due to the intensity in which the child is pursuing knowledge.
An example of this would be Josh and his study of dinosaurs, though his study started when he was 4 with the study of Creation and there have been many discussions, much research, many drawings and writings on the topic. One day, he may decide to write a book on dinosaurs why should he at the age of say 15 redo the research and writing that he completed at 12? His conclusions and expressions may mature, but I would like to see his previous research efforts help him complete any task at 15. His work will be available to him if it is seen as a life long study. On the other hand he may exhaust this topic and never go there again but it has already laid a foundation of other interests and skills.
Jessica has done a unit on Colour. The initial impetus for this study was Scrapbooking, later on we discussed wearing colour, one day she may get into Quilting. The same knowledge of colour is desirable with quilting as with Scrapbooking. If the work she completed previously on the colour wheel is available to her there is no need to redo her research but rather just to refresh herself. What a great model of building resources in your own life.
The second category I see my childrens work falling into is exploring knowledge. This comes from two perspectives – first, the kids are exploring the world to see what is out there and as they explore they will find passions to grip their hearts. Secondly, there are topics of general knowledge that we desire our children to be familiar with. This doesnt fall into the Life long category but it is still a part of their learning journey connecting the dots so to speak.
When I worked out in my own head how I categorised my childrens learning it was then the right time for me to work on our filing system/record keeping. Filing time used to put so much pressure on me I would set out to file their paper work and would be assailed with doubts that they had not done enough in the year. Or I would not see the benefit on this one assignment in amongst it all and end up throwing it out! Nowadays, I see value in a wide range of experiences some of which create paperwork.
We have taken on a few forms of keeping the childrens work none of which are defined by being completed within a calendar year. I allow the older children to choose the format of their filing system though I encourage them along these following lines .
Notebook / binders is my preferred choice if it is a life long study. We use ring binders, dividers and plastic sleeves. The reason behind this is that they can add to their work and keep it organised (ie not be bound to the dates that they actually do the work)
Such studies are:
· Gods Word This is their Bible study ranging from chronological / historical readings through to personal devotional thoughts. Their Gods Word binder is divided into the main periods of the Bible as well as some personal sections at the back.
· History (this is a life long study for Josh so he has a dedicated binder). His history is divided into chronological periods with sub categories as Study, Fictional writing and Drawings.
· Life Skills (this is a life long study for Jessica and is continually expanding). She has topics such as Hospitality, Organization, and Flowers. Her passion is domesticity and her binder reflects this.
· Character Studies this is a family directed life long study.
· Artwork All our children have an Artwork binder though I intend to get Naomi an A3 or larger Art File as her artwork expands to larger pieces of paper.
· Writing I am encouraging Josh and Jess to keep a separate binder of finished writing pieces especially if they enjoy the piece.
The negative side to this filing system is that should the Moderator from the government ever wish to see the work completed for the year then it is hard to find as it is interspersed throughout their lifelong work! I keep their current work aside for the year, in plastic sheets, in manilla folders, ready to file. This way the children have an appreciation for the work they have completed, they can quickly show it to family and friends but then see it as a part of their whole life when they add it to previous studies. I also encourage them to date all their work so that they can see a progression of knowledge over the years.
Scrapbooks are the second method of filing their work that we enjoy. This is working especially well for general knowledge studies.
We use big blank scrapbooks, just like those that I used to use to stick all sorts of stuff in when I was a kid! These work great for any worksheets, mini fold books and even 3-d artwork. We have chosen Scrapbooks over a series of Lapbooks mainly because the work goes straight into a scrapbook on the day the work is completed rather than waiting for everything to be finished and arranging them into the Lapbook.
Scrapbooks that we are working on (once again not defined by being completed within a calendar year):
· Jessicas study on History is being enjoyed but it is not a passion. She chose Scrapbook for her presentation and should this ever change for her the Scrapbook will be able to be filed in the beginning of her Notebook and seen as an early resource!
· Jessica also approaches her science from this perspective. She does the work but it does not inspire her to dig further on her own therefore the paperwork generated can easily be filed chronologically as she completes it.
· Nomi and Daniel are working with FIAR. Their paperwork is glued into a FIAR scrapbook, where we have a cover page / divider for each new title.
· Daniel still completes a lot of preschool type artwork many of which are 3 dimensional. They get glued into his 2005 Scrapbook. These are completed into year dates.
Lapbooks When I see a short-term, one off project I do encourage Lapbooks as I appreciate the design work that these call for. We have completed Lapbooks on the following:
· Holiday studies this included all the learning that happened during our holidays. There were pieces on news events, family happenings and excursions, poetry written or shared, photos, research on things seen or experienced. This was an extension on our Holiday Journal and a project well worth doing.
· Jessica has made an organization Lapbook- this is where she files her lists and lists and lists!
· Jessica has made an extensive Lapbook on her study of horses and Nomi has collected material for one on Dogs.
Now all I have to do is go and buy a bookshelf to store the life long learning of four children!