Here are three simple methods to keep track of school work that gets done in your home each day. Whether you’re a person who loves structure or who revels in freedom, you need some method of measuring what subjects your kids complete on a daily and weekly basis. If you’re looking for a new system this fall give one (or all) of these a try.
Know why you’re keeping track of school work
Before you decide on a system for keeping track of school work, decide who the system is designed for. Are you looking for a way you, the mom, can log work each day or week? Will you be checking off the boxes? Or are you looking for a system your kids will use each day to motivate them to accomplish all the tasks you’ve assigned? Pick a system that will work best for the person who is actually using it. Some kids love ticking-off a check mark, others can’t stand the extra hassle in their day. As always, the key is to find what works not only for your family, but for each individual. All schedules and plans are simply tools to help you provide a thorough education. Be sure to use a tool that works!
And if you try something and find it doesn’t work – ditch it! Try something else. After years and years of tweaking, you’ll eventually find or create something that suits your style.
I skip the highly detailed schedules
Many homeschoolers love highly detailed schedules that list exactly which pages their children should read each day. As an example, see the Middle School schedules at Wildflowers and Marbles. I’m always so impressed when I see schedules like that! But guess what? I feel my insides seize and wither. That’s not me. I think it’s way too much work to make a schedule that looks like that. I’m all about streamlining my work as a homeschool mom. I also don’t expect my kids to read or work that way. My kids have a lot of freedom to adjust their work schedules. In the past when I have tried to implement those detailed schedules we floundered and quickly tossed them out. I used to feel inferior. I’m not. Just different.
Once again, know you’re style and what motivates you. If you love detailed schedules, hunt around the internet for remarkably organized moms and learn from them. However, if you hate a regimented school schedule, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a successful homeschooler. Above all, find a system that helps your family.
A weekly checklist
For the past three years I have use this weekly checklist to keep track of school work.
This is a pretty basic checklist but it suits our style in many ways and you could easily adapt it to suit your family. There are no set assignments, so if we have to repeat a math lesson it doesn’t throw the schedule off. I have organized it in weekly grids, but we don’t always get all the work done within that time frame. It provides me with a simple way to see how we are progressing over-all and which subjects we need to give more attention. You might like it if:
- You need a simple accountability system. Kids need accountability and you can quickly see which subjects they’ve completed on a daily and weekly basis. Or, if you need accountability to keep you on track, check off the work during the week and show it to your husband on Friday evenings.
- You love check boxes and lists. Here’s a simple way to check off the work that gets done each day and keep track of where you are over-all.
- You hate writing out unnecessary details, but still want an idea of what work is accomplished each day. This is me! I hate to waste time writing out “Math Lesson 22” when both mom and student can see at a glance, by opening up the math notebook, which number lesson needs to be completed. I just need to know you worked on math for the day. If you love wasting time or are required to know which lessons or pages were completed each day, you can certainly add them to this schedule. The first year I made these excel sheets I spent a V-E-R-Y long time at the beginning of the year writing in all the lesson numbers. Then I decided it was a waste of time and I like it better this way.
- You need to see at a glance how far through the year’s school work you and the kids have progressed.
- You don’t want to be tied to a specific schedule. There’s no need to finish each week’s work within the five days. Using this you can have extra freedom to spend more time on subjects that your family is enjoying each day. Yet, you still have a reminder of the other areas that you intended to study this year. You never have to tell yourself you are behind. Perhaps you should shift your focus right now or work on a few things in the summer. You absolutely have the freedom to do that!
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Downloadable School Schedule Template
A daily checklist
Another simple way to help your kids keep track of school work they’ve completed each day is to make a simple daily check list.
Type up a list of each subject. I would list each book by name, rather than simply listing subject matter. For example, do not simply type “Language Arts” and expect your kids to know which five activities fall under that heading. List each book or activity you expect them to complete: spelling, copywork, dictation, grammar, and writing. If you expect your kids to do spelling Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; but grammar on Tuesday and Thursday consider typing up two different lists. Similarly, if you expect your kids to complete both a math lesson and practice math facts, type those up separately. Each day your kids can immediately see what they have to accomplish. Be sure to include a box next to each book so your kids can check off the work as they complete it.
Next, insert the list into a clear plastic sleeve and have a dry erase pen handy. Then you can re-use the same lists all school year.
An index card system
This system of keeping track of school work is quick and easy to create, easy to customize each day, and easy to adapt as the year progresses and you add or drop books. I made the cards in this picture very quickly, so that I could share a photo with you. If I were actually using them with my kids we would have made them a bit more visually appealing by using colored paper, washi tape, or stickers.
- List each subject on an index card. As I wrote up above, make a separate card for each book or activity.
- Store the index cards in an envelope.
- Each morning select the items you want your child to complete that day and pull them out of the envelope. Anything you won’t work on that day can remain in the envelope.
- Lay the cards out on the table or counter top. You can lay them out randomly. Or, you can put them in the order you would like your child to complete them. A final option is to let your child choose which order they would like to complete the cards.
- Consider having a way of distinguishing which cards your child can complete independently and which ones will be completed with your help. You could lay the cards out in two columns. Another idea is to use two different colored cards (of course, if you have multiple students use different colored cards for each child and don’t risk confusing one kid’s stack with the other’s). Or, make some kind of symbol on the cards you’ll work on together.
- As each subject is finished, the card is put away in the envelope.
Index cards are a very visual way to see how much work your student has completed that day. This system would be easy to use in conjunction with a master schedule. Your kids have a hands-on visual format and you can keep a check list for yourself.
Simplest system of all
Finally, the easiest way of all to track how much school your kids have finished during the day involves nothing more than a stack of their school books. In the morning pull out all of the books you expect your child to complete that day. Put them in a stack on the table, in a box, or in a basket. Then train your kids to grab a book and do the next page or lesson. After they have finished it, and you have checked it, just put the book away on a shelf or in the cupboard. No planning. No prep. I’ve never done it like this, I like just a little more structure. But if it appeals to you, give it a try.