I've been a homeschool coordinator in my county for over ten years and one thing I recommend to new homeschoolers - and ANY homeschool family - is a good teacher's planner/record keeping system. Whether it's on hard copy in a notebook or a CDRom for your computer, it is one of the most important tools a homeschool mom can own.
In states where you have to keep records of every little thing, it fits the bill; in states that permit you to have a choice as to how to assess your children and the assessor needs to see all that you've done - every book you've read and every field trip you've taken - it fits the bill. When you use tons of different books throughout your school year and take several field trips, you can't exactly re-check 100+ books to show your assessor or plop her in your car and take her to every field trip destination you've gone to!
You CAN show them your complete and thorough records from either your computer or printed off from your Homeschool Tracker records! Homeschool Tracker can be a real life-saver. It is so easy to set up - just up-load it onto your computer and go. It is so easy to follow - just click on a tab and add, subtract or read whatever you need to know.
There are nine tabs/sections to work with: Main Menu, Overview, Assignments, Attendance, Reading Log, Field Trips, Daily Journal, Maintenance and Reports.
Main Menu: This is the "Title Page." This is where your school's name, and public information is shown; plus your school motto (Ours is: "I can do ALL things through CHRIST Who strengthens me!") and a quick look at your children's accumulative school days shown as "sick," "present," "hours" and "Average." Not every state, including mine, must account for hours or attendance, but it's always nice to have. One never knows when things might change in regard to your state laws, and it's always nice to have on-hand should a problem arise.
Overview: This is a handy page. For each student you can look over the accumulation of their work. For example:
||1 Field Trip
The Points show actual grade/possible grade.
Assignments: These are covered by a chart, per student, showing: Subject, Activity, Resource used, Page/Lesson/Chapter, Due Date, Grade (numeric).
Attendance: I have to tell you, maybe it's just me, but this was the hardest part for me to figure out - and it's JUST a calendar!! Once I figured out that I had to set up the calendar to show the dates for our school year, it was easy. I had begun that think I had to go get one of my teenaged daughters to show me how to figure this out! But, the Lord is good and I began to put it all together. Actually this was one of the most fun sections to do after I had figured it out. On this calendar you can show whether your child was "present," "sick;" that this was a "holiday" or that the day was designated as "holiday/present."
Reading Log: Here you can list: Student/Resource/Type/Started/Finished. If you are like us and use a lot of books and other resources, this can be one of the most gratifying pages. It's incredible to look back and see all that was read and used throughout your year. Assessors love those lists!
Field Trips: This section includes: Trip Date/Time Spent/Subject/Description (location). The only thing I think I would change about this would be a place to record things that were done or learned at each location.
Daily Journal: This is in the teacher's section, but I give my students access to it. On those days when one student's activities take your time away from the others - or if some of your other students are in their junior high or high school years and are more independent workers - you can leave notes to them, or yourself, concerning lessons that need more attention. Or use it as a reminder that you will need to find a map of China for this Friday. This is a very useful "free" page and we can make it what we want!
Maintenance: Just as the title suggests, this is the place where you can add/enter/delete any type of information. Sections covered are: Activities/Resources/Resource Types/School Info/School Years/Students/ Subjects/Terms.
Reports: Here is the handy-dandy page that allows you to print off any of the reports from the previous sections that you may need.
Over all, this has been a very easy record-keeping system. It would be a great system to use to teach your students, at an early age, how to record their own work. This could even be included as one of their lessons if you are working with them on computer skills or record keeping; it's easy enough that they could manage their records for you!
As a mom who has been homeschooling for a while, and as a person who does assessments, this can be a life-saver; a secure, concise place to manage your records.