There's a lot to keep track of as a homeschool parent! Your state, district, or umbrella school may require documentation. But even if it doesn't, you have your own day-to-day record keeping that lets you know what to do next and helps you keep tabs on your own progress. When you multiply that record keeping for each child you are teaching, keeping track of your homeschool can be a chore!
Fortunately, when you homeschool with Sonlight, keeping track of your homeschool is relatively easy thanks to the handy Instructor's Guide (IG) that lays everything out for you. But since each family is different, you may need to layer additional methods on your IG like these tricks I've outlined below.
Keeping Track of Pages for the Day
When homeschooling with Sonlight, we need to keep track of two types of pages so we can easily start our day:
- pages in the books we’re reading
- pages in our Instructor’s Guide
It's open and go, but if we don't know where to open to, we aren't going anywhere!
Although bookmarks may seem an obvious choice for the our Readers and Read-Alouds, they can easily fall out if people are careless about how they carry books. But when it comes to the bulky IGs, a regular bookmark is impractical, of course.
The solution? I’ve found that repositionable adhesive flags are perfect for both jobs.
For our books, when we finish any assigned reading, we simply move the flag from where we left off last to where we’ll pick up next. In our IGs, we stagger flags over the subject area pages for the week we’re currently in:
- History / Bible / Literature (HBL) over Day 1
- LA over Day 2
- Science over Day 3
This method (as shown in the top photo) makes it easy to flip back and forth from one page to another during a particular week of homeschool.
You can find adhesive flags in a variety of lengths, widths, and colors. Some even have arrows at the tips. The variety of options can take your organization up a level if you want to color code according to student or subject.
Keeping Track of Multiple Kids
If you plan on using one Instructor’s Guide for multiple kids, you’ll need a way to keep track of what work each child has done. As our oldest started school, we would put an X in the corner of the appropriate box every time he completed a particular assignment. Along came our second, and I knew I didn’t want each future kid to have to count X’s to figure out which assignments he needed to do, especially when skipping assignments would mess up the count.
The solution is to give each child a symbol.
- Child 1 is an X.
- Child 2 is a circle.
- Child 3 is a heart.
- Child 4 is a star.
They are able to quickly glance at the IG and know which assignment is next because it’s the first one without their unique symbol in the box.
Maybe you have (or hope to have) too many kids for symbols to be practical. If so, try using dots in different colors that correspond with age. You could also assign numbers that are based on age or, if birth order doesn’t sync with the order your kids go through a particular IG, the order they use that IG.
Keeping Track of Time, Week by Week
Many homeschoolers have a relaxed approach to when things get done and don’t worry about staying on a particular timeline. Others have a lot of structure, making sure that each day’s and week’s assignments are done in order and on time. If you fall into either of those categories and it’s working well for your family, keep at it. If, however, you fall somewhere in the middle, you’ll need figure out how to pace yourself so you don’t end up too far ahead or behind.
In our home, we figure out when we want our school year to end, and then go back a couple weeks to build in some wiggle room. If we end up needing those two weeks, we’re grateful to have them so we can still end our year on time. If we’re able to complete everything before those two weeks, then we’re rewarded with a longer break. It’s not important to us if a day’s work gets done in a day, as long as a week’s work gets done in a week. So once we’ve determined our starting and ending points, as well as factored in any planned breaks, we figure out which week of school needs to be completed by the last Friday of each month and write that week's number on the corresponding calendar square. (For example, in the photo above, I've marked that week in the IG as week 12 in my plan.)
This approach provides enough structure that we all finish the year when we want to, but still allows freedom for each child to pace the daily work as desired.
Whatever it is that you need to keep better track of—pages, kids, or time—just keep experimenting with these ideas until you find what works well for your family.