What if Homeschool Record Keeping is Not Required?

Homeschool Documentation  is Not Evil The word “documentation” may bring to mind images of a criminal on trial or an attempt to prove your innocence. When you combine these rather threatening situations with schooling your darling children, you may break out in a cold sweat. It need not be that way though. Even if homeschool record keeping / documentation is not required, here are six reasons why you still should do it: Organization– So maybe this is obvious but if you are organizationally challenged, like some of my creative friends, being reminded of this won’t hurt! Keeping records, in its simplest form, shows you where you have been and points to where you are (or should be) going. It is motivating– When you are able to look back at the exciting things your have done, you and your student will be motivated. Little nuggets of learning, over time, create mountains of achievement! Time Investment– As a parent and teacher, you have invested the most precious thing around- your time- into your child’s education. If it is worth doing, it is worth keeping… in one form or another! It communicates value– anything you record or keep is something valuable. Think about it: your bank info, your wedding photos, baby pictures. You keep things that are special to you and you want to preserve. What our kids do, create, and learn is valuable. We can communicate that by being a “Keeper” or piling their best work in a box in the basement. Enough said! “You never know”– Ok, so normally my husband is the pessimist but the reality is, “You never know”. If something should happen to you (heaven forbid) and your child should have to transition to another form of schooling, keeping records will make the transition a whole lot smoother. Laws can change, your situation may change, or you may just need to have proof of what you did. “You never know”. Learning is a Journey– What is the most important part of a journey? All the small steps that get you to the destination. Keeping records is like being mindful that these small steps are going somewhere big! How much richer is the final destination when you have the steps all along the way to show you how far you have traveled. So if your state does NOT require homeschool record keeping, these are six of many reasons why “Documentation” is not a bad word. Why would you not want to communicate worth, organization, value, preparation, and please associated with your child’s learning? Keeping records is really quite easy with LearningKeeper and we are here to encourage you all along the...

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6 Reasons You Need LearningKeeper Homeschool Portfolio Software

Why Use LearningKeeper Homeschool Portfolio Software? So, you have children. These are six reasons why you need LearningKeeper homeschool portfolio software by your side. Celebrate Success– When is the last time you and your student looked back at his work from two or three years ago? So, prior to LearningKeeper I celebrated my children’s hard work and success by shoving their folders, binders, and papers in a box and piling said box on top of another box from the prior year. Each year, with each child, you repeat the process. These boxes unfortunately contain each child’s beautiful, unfolding story of learning and adventure and what have I done with them? Shoved them in the back of a closet to collect dust. Noting says mom fail quite like that! It is my intention to convey value and worth to these little lives and celebrate what they are learning and doing academically and otherwise. LearningKeeper homeschool portfolios has brought to the stage the affordable, easy, and motivating way of creating the chronicle of each child’s “Achievements” that communicates value, accomplishment, and a sense of celebration. Be a ‘Keeper’ and join LearningKeeper. Declutter– There have been times when I have nearly been eaten alive by the paper pile up that my kids create. Some papers are formal school work, others come from church, and still some are their special masterpieces that they make on their own initiative. I wish I could say there is one neat pile in our school room. Honesty, however would reveal that at times they have grown up on my kitchen counter, my nightstand, my desk, or any other flat surface in my house. Many of you can relate. Therefore, the age old parental dilemma appears, “What do I do will all this stuff???” Granted there are many pieces that can be trashed that are not student creations, but what about the rest? And yes, this picture conveys my sentiments. LearningKeeper will allow you to organize, archive, and save these treasures without your needed to build an addition on to your home or rent a storage building. Simply scan or photograph the masterpiece and save it in the appropriate student’s portfolio for future viewing. Student Motivation– we have all gone beside our student as they have tackled some new educational mountain and seen the sigh of doubt (and even tears) that they really cannot do this. My favorite plan of attack is empower my children with their own prior learning. Just this week, my son began a new, highly challenging violin piece. I could sense his intimidation and just happened to show him the video clip of his first violin accomplishment. That first “achievement” that we looked back at was him playing on only one open string, moving his bow back and forth. At the time, that was a big deal. Now two years later, I saw his reaction and own words say “I guess I have learned a lot!” and “That practice really did teach me something!”.  That prior learning was the fuel in his fire that has helped him take this new piece by storm. So much of leaning is like this: writing, reading, math, etc. Today’s “achievements” compound into tomorrow’s great mountain of new success! LearningKeeper is the best way to organize, store, and use these building blocks to help your student be the best he can be. A mindset of progress and success as a child goes a long way toward forming adult habits of determination, ambition, goal setting, and success. Our parents are equally motivated as they reflect on all they have done with their...

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Homeschool State Law and Portfolios

Homeschool State Law and Portfolios So when you decide to homeschool it is kind of like getting married. There is some energy as you think about homeschooling, the point that you commit, and then suddenly the realization that this involves real work! The first step to success is to understand homeschool state law and how portfolios are involved. How to Homeschool in Your State When you feel that weight of the reality of it all, you will probably realize there are certain requirements, certain laws, and certain things that must be done to afford you this freedom to educate your child. The good news is that many have gone before you, and the state laws (by and large) are easy to deal with. I am not a lawyer but I am very grateful for those who stand on my behalf to preserve this right. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association  is my go-to source for homeschool state law and support. States require documentation and there is usually some form of due diligence that protects children from the rare situation in which they are not being educated. How to Keep a Homeschool Portfolio to Meet Homeschool State Law Many state laws allow for a portfolio of student work to be kept as evidence of what the student has learned each year. This is such a gift to families. A portfolio need not be stressful or overwhelming. The idea is simply to capture  milestones as they happen. A portfolio is like a personal storybook about your child. It motivates the parents and child alike to look back at growth. They are empowered to look forward. Why LearningKeeper can Help LearningKeeper.com is the best way to portfolio. Capture photo, video, or audio of your child. Sometimes this is a test. Perhaps a field trip. Often it is a writing sample. The format is broad but the power of keeping is deep.  This can be anything from a picture at the fire station as they learn about fire helpers and fire safety to an audio clip of the child reciting the preamble to the Constitution. Perhaps your child was in a theatrical production and you want to include a video clip to demonstrate how he has improved his public speaking. Maybe your child has just reached fluent reading and you want to document this with an audio clip or video. Your child will be motivated by all he has done. So many of these achievements (as we call them in LearningKeeper.com) transcend beyond paper and pencil learning. It is our deepest desire to help you capture the essence of your child’s learning, both academically and otherwise, through LearningKeeper.com. So don’t be bogged down if your state law lists a portfolio as documentation. Celebrate! We are here to help you every step of the way! There are also many users who are not required by law to keep a portfolio if they public school or their state simply doesn’t require it. Why do they do it? They are smart. Yes, really! I discussed the common goal of success that all parents have in this post. They do it because they have seen how amazing it is to share your child’s story as it unfolds. To find out specific law for your state, go to Homeschool Legal Defense. Does your state require portfolio assessment? We are finding that people all over love LearningKeeper.com even if no state mandated portfolio requirement exists. If your state requires a portfolio review, LearningKeeper.com now allows your assessor of choice to see everything your child has learned and done with no printing or...

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Learning, Memorization, and Assessment

Learning, Memorization, and Assessment – What is success? How can you tell the difference between learning and memorizing? In our family we love music. About two years ago we came across a method of violin instruction called the Suzuki method that teaches music in much the same way our babies learn language. They learn through experimentation, imitation, and repetition. One thing I love about this method is that it teaches the children to memorize each piece they play. At first, I was a skeptic because I know how difficult it is for me to memorize anything. Very easily though, the children in our music group learn the ‘finger pops’ to each new song. They can say the finger numbers in order but does that mean they know the song?       No. Not only can they learn the finger numbers, they learn to sing the fingerings with pitch and rhythm. They learn to sing the song before they ever begin to play in on their instruments. So does singing and learning fingerings mean they know the song? No. Once the child can sing the song, they begin playing and experimenting with the music on the instrument. They press the right fingers, hit the right strings, and play the right rhythms. Does this mean they know the song?             No. They have memorized the song. In a way, yes that is learning. Moving Beyond Memorization As a teacher and parent, however, I hope my desire is for more than memorization. Don’t misunderstand, developing memory work is important and should not be neglected. Math facts, for example, must be memorized. Schooling the heart of child aims, on the whole, for deep ownership of the content and your portfolio is there to help you capture that. I want my students to have ownership over what they have learned. I want the child to take the fingering, pitch, and rhythm and recreate the song with expression and passion. That, my friend, is learning. That is making music. So much of education is exactly like this. Do you teach history so your children can repeat war facts or information about Ancient Egypt? We teach history so that our children can better understand their world, the way peoples have interacted for centuries, and how they can use this information to be agents of change in their own world. LearningKeeper Captures Depth If we are not teaching for memory, then our assessments must fall in line. LearningKeeper.com is your powerful partner for documenting this type of learning. Perhaps you have interviewed your student on the importance of freedom of speech or perhaps they have written an essay on the religious views of our founding fathers. Portfolios have power. Audio, video, writing samples, art, song writing, projects…. use these and the power of your portfolio to move beyond memorization and enjoy the power of the portfolio in your schooling!  ...

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Creative ways to Capture Learning With LearningKeeper

Creative ways to Capture Learning With LearningKeeper Here at LearningKeeper.com we love portfolios. We love them so much that we have devoted ourselves to bringing you the best and we love to hear from you! We love to hear your creative ways to capture learning with LearningKeeper.   Photo, video, audio integration ideas Using  photo, video, and audio to record this otherwise hard to document learning is the super power of your portfolio and it allows you to show real life learning. Learning is beyond books and tests, so shouldn’t your portfolio also be? My time with my children is short. Shorter than I like to think about, really. The longer we homeschool the more I see the blur between family life and homeschool blur. I see learning everywhere, embedded in our everyday life. I want to capture these morsels of learning and use them to motivate my children in other areas. Here are some great ways you might catch learning at your house: Interpersonal skills– Your student was caught showing extra kindness in play with a sibling or neighbor Your child visits an elderly neighbor and is learning to respect adults so you video them talking You interview your child about qualities of a good friend Responsibility– Your child has mastered a new chore that helps keep the house running smoothly Your child is making choices about how to use his allowance Reading– You caught your child reading for fun and record the moment with a quick photo Reading fluency- use audio or video record your child’s reading fluency Bible– You capture and audio clip of your child’s new memory verse and let them explain in their own words what it means Physical Development– Your child has learned to swim, ride a bike, or other big accomplishment Organized Sports– Your child is learning sportsmanship and teamwork Your child has learned to throw, catch, hit, or shoot the ball with good form Cooking and Math– Have your child explain measuring cups and fractions they have used while cooking Field trips– Record the photo or video from the trip and attach a writing sample from the trip Video scientific discoveries while hiking or exploring You study statistics and then go to a baseball game where you practice tracking and discussing stats Public Speaking– Your child was in a performance or play and has learned about speaking in front of a crowd Why Should I Capture Learning with LearningKeeper? Learning is everywhere. Don’t let ordinary learning pass you by when it can be used to encourage your child. So catch them learning and make it fun! While not strictly academic, these nuggets of learning are very much the essence of who your child is becoming. Homeschool documentation and learning progress is something we must always be considering. Learning is beyond books and tests, so shouldn’t your portfolio also be? Yes, we think so. Have other great ideas to share with us? Contact us to share your creative ways to use...

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Schooling Choices…Our Story

Schooling Choices…Our Story Choices. Many are clear cut, such as: Do you prefer vanilla or chocolate? Hands down, it is chocolate every time. Others begin to blur together.  Do you want eggs or sausage? “Well,  actually I want an omelet with a little of both and some spinach thrown in the mix.” Educating our children has become this way too.  I am here to say, no matter which side you find yourself on, you can find great joy in celebrating the success of your child. We have been a little like that omelet. A combination of many educational philosophies and techniques. Schooling is as broad as the Grand Canyon and can often be just as divisive, but it doesn’t need to be. No matter which side of the coin you are on, you have probably heard comments like “What do you do with your kids ALL day?” or “How are you going to prepare them for the REAL world?”. Well, as someone who didn’t grow up homeschooling or plan to before we were blessed with children, I think I have a pretty good perspective from both sides. Whether we homeschool, public school, or charter school, we are all investing in our children. I have many wonderful friends all along the educational continuum. Most Parents Want the Best Educational researcher, Kathleen Bowers, has really dove into the subject of all the schooling choices. She hits the nail on the head that regardless of your educational choice, “our goal is well-educated, informed, and prepared people”. This is a common ground. A firm place to stand.   So perhaps you can identify with some elements of our educational omelet. We have eSchooled and used our own personally create curriculum at various times with various children. By the way, I have four. And they are all DIFFERENT with a capital D! That’s the topic of anther post, though. We have used Charlotte Mason methods, classical methods, textbook methods, literature based methods, project based methods, and everything in between. I like to think of our school as a ‘test kitchen’ in a good way. Through these experiments we have learned much about our personal learning styles, my teaching styles, and our own interests. There is an ebb and flow to schooling and your child’s learning.   With all these experiences, though, there is one common theme. I want the best for my children. Each one of them. One year that may look totally different from the next.   As I seek what is best, I note what works and record their successes along the way. Their achievements. Their hard work. Their progress. Their learning. All of this is the sum total of who they are becoming and what we have focused on so diligently. Celebrate Learning with a Portfolio   I want to celebrate their success and use those prior experiences to motivate them for today’s learning. How do I do this? Simple. I keep a portfolio and thus a beautiful story of each child. LearningKeeper makes the Portfolio Easy LearningKeeper.com is the gift of that dream to you. I want you to celebrate each child and who they are becoming. Let them savor their hard work and celebrate what they have done.   Life, and education are both a journey. Let LearningKeeper.com be the map of that journey to show you where you have been and point you to where you are...

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