Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tracking our Schooling

In the same vein as my last post about how we homeschool is how we track what we homeschool.

Through some Yahoo! group or other, perhaps The Well Trained Mind Secular group, I heard about Full-Year Notebook.  I knew I wasn't going to want some computer heavy system, so this printable planning and tracking system appealed to me.  

Essentially, you print out the long-term planning sheets and create customized weekly plans for each child.  Those weekly plans go in each child's own notebooks with the theory they can work independently from them.  The notebook includes completed pages of work for a full record of the year.  I've tweaked how we use Full-Year Notebook (FYN) over the past two years, and I'm sure as the children, and their school work mature, we will tweak again.

Several things about the program keep us moving in the right direction.  
- I really value the creator's way of envisioning the school year and walking me through understanding how much time we have and how much work we can really do in that time. 
- Her ideas about gathering support materials (like library books) didn't quite work right for me, but I wouldn't have found the process that works for us without trying hers first.  
- Envisioning a full-year of homeschool gives me a vision of where we're going.  I have found that planning an entire 9 months of school work in August doesn't work well for me (the best laid plans of mice and men...).  So with my year's vision in mind, I have a loose quarterly plan.  I write my weekly sheets from there.
- FYN tracking sheets include a space for each subject, the books used and their pages, plus any notes.  There is one for each child.  Her set up overwhelmed my kids, but it was easy to create something that worked for us after trying her version for several months.
- The PDF download, at $30 is a steal, compared to most of the tracking systems out there.  And I can use it year after year with no annoying software updates!

It turns out having a fat little notebook at the end of the year is really satisfying for my kids. Each has their own 3 ring notebook that they have customized with personal art work.  Inside are tabs for their different subject plus all the weekly sheets.  And I love that I can easily whip out last year's notebook to double check something we've done or show-off to nay-sayers!

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