It is coming to the end of the year where we start to wonder where the year has gone and if we have used it wisely concerning the teaching and training of our children. I like to write a report for each of my kids (I don’t get to it every year but I wish I did). This is often used as a part of my reporting to the moderator (Education Department) next year. I used to use the government’s curriculum framework but found myself checking boxes and doing things that I didn’t really want to do. These days I use my own outline for my report which covers all areas of our life, not just the academic.
As I write my report I use the same categories as I list on my website:
Relationships – what activities have happened throughout the year that has enhanced or built relationships with God and man (family, friends and acquaintances?)
Responsibilities – what has happened in our family life that has helped my children grow in the areas of responsibility with time, money, and possessions?
Intrapersonal – how have my children grown as a person – their inner self
Talents – what talents have been developed over the year – what activities or opportunities have they had to stretch and improve
Academics – where are they at, in terms of the 3 R’s, thinking, history, geography, science etc. What has been their strengths and their weaknesses.
The key to writing a good report but still using all of family life is to use education speak; that is to use the language of educators to describe the learning going on in everyday activities. For example:
When considering the area of talents Naomi has joined a community drama group which I list as her art programme for this year. Daniel though has been interested in drawing and has used ‘learn to draw’ books in his free time – which is his Art, as is his interest in stop-motion animation and movie making though that also covers Technology! Both these forms of art have helped my kids understand different ways of communicating ideas, they have both learnt different techniques and skills, and they reflect on their own work and think of ways to improve. These are the aspects of art that are important in education speak. For me, I use the curriculum framework though this is now a mostly outdated document officially, it still provides education speak; it still breaks down what the kids are doing and gives us the formal words to explain.
This may go deeper than you want to report – if so, then simply use the learning areas and categorise the activities accordingly: Art, Language Arts (English), Health and Physical Education (which also includes personal values and development), LOTE (Language other than English – 2nd language), Mathematics, Science, Society and Environment, Technology and Enterprise. I am sure that every family has activities that support most of those distinctions.
I then write a comment or two about their involvement in that activity. As I reflect on what they have done the skills and lessons learnt become apparent.
Three family friendly ways to keep records that will help you compile such a report are
- Your family diary – as you flip back through the year you will see the commitments and activities your kids were involved in. A dress-up party (Art, History, Technology), dinner with a missionary or grandad who talked about their life (Society and Environment), sport commitments (Physical Ed, Health), community dance (Physical Ed, Society), maybe your older kids organised and hosted a birthday party for their younger sibling (English, Health, Technology, Art), cooking (Health, Technology, Society),
- Your family photo albums serve as another memory jogger – maybe you have photos of the kids working in the veggie patch (Science, Health), blogging (English, Technology), maybe you see your child has taken a lot of photos themselves and have improved (Art, Technology, maybe even Science if they are interested in nature photography), trips that you have made (Society and Environment, Science, Health, Art, Language, Math….all depending on the flavour of your travels!), family gatherings (Society and Environment),
- A book list of the books, and even movies that you read/watch as a family will give you clues to topics discussed. These things can be counted as a lesson/unit. For example if you read Winnie the Pooh, you are covering language as you enjoy prose and clever use of words. As you read Do Hard Things you are covering Health topics such as inter and intrapersonal skills and values. As you read Treasures in the Snow you are discussing geography and cultures which is Society and Environment.
When we start to include all of family life in our homeschool review we find ourselves looking at a very full year indeed. We can also begin to see the gaps in our family life, and can plan to fill those with lessons. For example I don’t do much in our family life that covers science – so that is something that I look for formal studies, but values and intrapersonal development (health) is strong so we don’t need a formal curriculum to cover these things.
As you start to reflect on the year gone, don’t just look at the formal lessons you’ve sat down with your kids – look at your whole of life, and enjoy the richness of the learning experiences your kids have had this year.