High School Homeschooling, Christian Home Education

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Record Keeping for the High School Years – Part III

Record Keeping for the High School Years – Part III

We are discussing in this series of articles how important records are in the high school years.  Now we will turn to a very simple idea that we call “the file,” and then follow that with a frank discussion of two of the most misunderstood aspects of record keeping.  Hopefully by the time we have finished, you will be much more comfortable in handling either portfolio assessments or putting together a transcript for your high schooler.  So, here goes. . .

·        Documentation of Extracurricular Activities - The File

In the home-school situation, it is especially important to keep and document any awards or special notices your child receives.  This is accomplished quite simply by keeping a file folder in a secure but accessible place to which you add any certificates, newspaper notices, prize ribbons, and photographs of trophies or ceremonies.  You will probably never need to show the actual awards to anyone, but keeping the file will allow you to record a list of awards and accomplishments on college or job applications.  At commencement time, it is nice to prepare a special album for the graduate.  Simply decorate the exterior of a three-ring notebook with a portrait or decorations, and then insert the awards into clear plastic protector sheets and slip into the notebook.  This keepsake will be a special possession for the young person and a reminder of his/her home-school accomplishments.

·        Portfolios 

Some home-school parents start to sweat when they hear portfolios mentioned.  It sounds like so much work!  Actually, portfolios are not that hard to maintain if you have an overall plan.  They can be very persuasive tools when put before a college admissions board (those that request them). 

Keeping a portfolio is actually a good habit to get into that could be a useful skill in adult life.  Artists, writers, architects, designers, even engineers keep a portfolio of their accomplishments to show the overall scope of their work and abilities. 

We would suggest that you start collecting entries when you begin high school studies.  Put away samples of essays, artwork, math work, book reports, test scores, anything on paper, (or floppy disk, or CD, or videotape, for that matter).  We do mean samples, though.  Do not try to keep everything - you will drown!  Go through the portfolio yearly and choose representative pieces of work, discard the rest.  Take pictures of presentations given through the years, drama, and musical performances, and add those with some descriptions of the activities (written by the student).  Include reference letters, your personal evaluations, any outside evaluations you may have.  We would also suggest the student write a self-evaluation of hie/her work and learning yearly for the portfolio.

At the end of high school studies, finalize a permanent portfolio of the best samples from high school.  You will be amazed how well it will come together.  The student will also be able to use the portfolio as a gauge of his/her progress through the years.  It will be apparent what areas are strong and what areas need more work. 

·        The High School Transcript

The high school transcript is the most important record of the student's work that you will need to maintain.  The transcript is the real documentation of accomplishments by the student during high school.  Remember, whenever your student begins high school level work (no matter what grade he/she are in), that is the time to start keeping a high school transcript.  In other words, if your student is in fifth grade but begins working on a high school Spanish text, begin recording progress on the transcript (even if he takes three years to finish the text).  The one thing a transcript does not need to show is the date the work is completed.  It is simply a cumulative report of progress toward the goal of graduation. 

Well, we have run out of space for this column, so you’ll have to read our next article to get the rest of the transcript story.  You can also review more on our Web site and in our Guidance Manual.  All this information is available on our Web site, www.davidandlaurie.com.  In our next column, we will finish discussion of the transcript and then deal with the ominous diploma question.  We know you will want to check our next article for the rest of this discussion on record keeping.

The Guidance Manual for the Christian Home School: A Parent's Guide to Preparing Home School Students for College or Career To order a copy or see what else David and Laurie are up to, go to their web site at davidandlaurie.com. You can chat with David and Laurie live every Saturday night in HomeSchool Chat!