One of the challenges that homeschool parents have when they pursue a whole child/while life method of homeschooling is that the normal methods of record keeping, of ticking boxes on curriculum outlines, doesn’t fully reflect our homeschool endeavours.  Over the years I have found keeping a diary is one of the best ways to keep a record of your homeschool endeavours.  It can be an involved journal or it can be simply a list kept daily – the real benefit of keeping a diary is daily reflection.

When we stop and think through our day the first thing we’ll probably do is list all the academic work that we achieved – math, tick; phonics, tick; art, tick; read aloud, tick.  But the diary comes into its own when you look further than those intentional structured lessons and think about what else you did in your day.

  • Are you in teaching/training phase of a particular chore – this is learning so it goes in the diary
  • Did your kids explore in the sandpit, at the playground?  These activities are learning, for a season.  Sandpits are the best place to practice out problem solving, engineering and inventions.  Imagination play is a part of learning.
  • Did your kids play with Lego, create a story with their dolls, or have an adventure in the tree house?  It is learning.
  • Did they have piano lessons, go to a sport practice or game?
  • Did they read a book all afternoon?
  • Did they cook, paint, take photos?
  • Did they play a board game?
  • Did they make a phone call (this is learning for the season of time it takes for them to become familiar with this skill), organise a cupboard, design a cushion or book-bag?
  • Did they go with Dad to his work?

These are all learning activities. They need to be recorded as such.

Even Saturday family day activities can count:

  • Go shopping  – especially if you give them the shopping list and money
  • Go camping  – especially if they learnt something like how to light a fire, or tell directions from the stars
  • Set up for a party – especially if they created the decorations, or cooked the food, or planned the entertainment

Some of the things we do on Sunday at Church can also count as learning:

  • Play a musical instrument
  • Learn to manage the sound equipment
  • Read the Scriptures

Education-Speak

If you believe that everyday life offers learning experiences you need to be recording them.  Make them count.  If you need to give more formal reporting to the government department, then simply use Education Speak.  That is, identify the skill behind the activity, and label it as if they were in school.

For example

  • cooking, sewing, hospitality is “Home Economics”
  • playing in the sandpit is Math, or Science, depending on what game they played.  Maybe geography if they created hills, valleys, rivers, towns etc.
  • board games often have a specific skill behind the fun – Monopoly of course is easy – money – math and business, Othello – thinking skills, Rummikub – Math, Scrabble –language, Trouble – character (handling the disappointments),

It has been important to me to find a way that I can be true to my philosophy and yet responsible in monitoring the kids’ education – writing a diary has helped.

Keeping a Homeschool Diary

There are a few different forms of writing in a diary

  • Journal – either traditional pen and paper or a digital version
  • Blog – a blog has the added benefit of either encouraging other homeschoolers or keeping extended family up to date with your learning activities
  • Photo album or Instagram – If you already take photos of everyday life then this type of recording makes sense.
  • Diary – use a day to a page diary and just keep a list

Though keeping a diary is a part of the record keeping that keeps the Education Department happy the biggest benefit is what it does for me.  It gives me a concrete reminder that learning is happening – real learning, tangible learning. It also helps me see that though we may have many interruptions and distraction – learning is happening.

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