Everyone likes a good story. Do you like mysteries? Biographies? Love stories? Historical fiction?

Stories record real or imaginary events—providing details and sometimes stirring up emotions. Each story is uniquely told in the author’s own voice, adapted to the audience, genre, and topic.

If you told the tale of your child’s homeschool experience, what would you say? How would you say it?

Believe it or not, this is how you can think of homeschool recordkeeping. It’s really just a way of telling the unique and beautiful tale of your child’s life and education.

Thinking of homeschool recordkeeping this way, what kind of story would your child’s academic adventure be? Suspenseful? Dramatic? “Just the facts, ma’am”?

What scenes would you want your child (and others) to remember and celebrate? What dry details would ensure that people got the story straight, and what would you include for the sheer joy of it?

As the writer of this story, you can compile your child’s records with pride and even creativity!

Start with your audience

Every good author considers their audience when they write, and you too need to think about who will be reading your student’s records. Always start by checking your state law to find out if homeschoolers are required to keep any records.

Records that might be reviewed by government officials will seem a bit dry—filled with clear facts and no drama. Similarly, records that will be read by colleges, trade schools, or military recruiters need to be factual and professional.

Other records will be viewed by internship and scholarship committees, future employers, or even your child’s future children! These could highlight field trips, special projects, and accomplishments—sounding more like a biography or perhaps a melodrama.

Consider your purpose

Once you’ve determined what records you need to maintain in order to comply with your state’s homeschool law, you may feel uncertain about what other records are important for you to keep. After all, it’s your “school,” so you make the rules! In part 2 of this series, we’ll talk about the different types of records and why they might be important for your child.

For now, let’s look at two special circumstances that can make a big difference in the records you choose to keep.

Are you homeschooling a high schooler? Then let’s talk seriously for just a minute. The records you keep for your teen will play a crucial role in his or her future plans. In fact, poor recordkeeping in the high school years can actually hinder your child’s success in achieving post-graduation goals—whether your student goes on to college, trade school, employment, an internship, or the military.

So, take some time to read up on high school recordkeeping! We’ll explain exactly what records to keep for your teen and take you step by step through creating them.

Does your child have special needs? Depending on the type and severity of your student’s learning challenges, you might keep such records as medical files, documentation of special-needs evaluations, a student education plan, and IEPs from previous attendance at a traditional school. You might also find that some types of records express your child’s skills and progress better than others—for example, a portfolio might tell the story of your child’s education more faithfully than a report card.

Browse our special needs section for lots of tips on teaching a struggling learner!

Now, head on over to the next article in this series: Types of Homeschool Records.