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The Homeschool Ledger

By Dawn Cangelosi

304 Canaberry Circle
Summerville, SC 29483

The Homeschool Ledger is a thick 3/4-inch record keeper bound by a large one-inch, heavy-duty plastic spiral. There is a two-page spread for basic homeschool information (homeschool name, contact person, phone numbers, etc.) and space to write in the names of five students. Then there are blank month-by-month sections for 13 months. Each section begins with a five-week block calendar facing a page with sixteen boxes that are labeled with specific subject areas, Journal, Field Trips, Morning Routine, Holiday Fun, and more. Then each week's two-page spread provides space for such things as Notes to Self, Objectives for the Week, Field Trips, and a Monday through Friday lined area to record student attendance, hours completed, and any other pertinent information. There are also spaces for recording Assessments, Books, and Materials Needed. There are pages devoted to Notes, a Reading Log, a Student Assessment sheet, and a Weekly Grades sheet (with space for 14 subject areas). Each monthly section concludes with two blank pages for Notes, Important Numbers/Emails, etc. The Ledger ends with four pages for Quarterly Grades and a page for Year-End Grades. The entire Ledger totals 242 pages.

Designed by a homeschooling mother of five, The Homeschool Ledger is a book for tracking everything necessary and important to homeschoolers. Because the months are blank, you can adapt it to your schedule, no matter when you begin your school year. As mentioned above, there are useful labeled boxes in addition to the boxes devoted to subject areas. We used the Relationships block to note lunches with friends, family game night details, and neighborhood movie nights. These additional boxes allow you to add specifics and keep them handy and visible without packing every last detail onto the monthly calendar. The daily spaces offer eighteen blank lines for listing exactly what each student has completed, or what is being assigned, or anything else you desire to track daily, with the total hours recorded at the bottom. We used the Books space on the weekly spread to track what our students were reading and used the larger, full-page Reading Log to record details about books that I, as the teacher, was evaluating for future use in our homeschool. The Quarterly and Year-End pages allow you to see at a glance the grades for all students. I had a difficult time simply putting in letter grades or percentages; however, for families happily using extensive letter grades, these pages are a fantastic tool.

In my experience, homeschoolers tend to fall into one of two categories: those who obsess over organization and have multiple lesson planners (but struggle to adequately use them) or those who have few organizational skills and whose records amount to "chicken scratches" on torn-out notebook pages. The Homeschool Ledger addresses the needs of both groups as an all-in-one record book that will actually get used. I found the book to be very handy. The spiral binding allows you to completely flip the pages around, and the thickness will adequately support writing in the book "on the go." Of course, being able to open it up and have it lie fully flat is excellent, as I often make notes on a complete spread at one sitting. Due to ages, I currently have only two of our five children in our homeschool, and I had ample space to track their work. However, larger families may need two Ledgers in order to track more than five children.

When transferring information from the earlier months to the Quarterly pages at the back, flipping becomes rather difficult. The pages are fairly sturdy and haven't begun to escape the book itself, but they definitely will not take any rough handling. I almost would have preferred a three-ring binder version that allowed me to move completed months into a master binder while keeping necessary current ones handy, but then the book would have lost the thickness that I completely relied on when recording information on the go. The book comes with a clear plastic front piece and end piece over sturdier cardstock, which adds to its overall endurance. Pencil recordkeeping will not cause bleed-through problems, but use of a pen might take a toll on the pages, as they are printed on both sides. The Monday through Friday week was a bit limiting for our family, as we work year-round with a six-day school week; but only five of our days are spent with a traditional schooling outlook, so it still worked for us. The 14 listed subject areas may limit some users or intimidate them if they aren't offering everything listed, but I didn't mind not using a particular column or replacing a label with something more applicable to our family.

Time is rarely taken for granted by homeschoolers. We understand the difficulties of fitting everything into a day. When it is time to turn in grades, you may feel like pulling out your hair. The Homeschool Ledger can help you streamline that process and can save you many hours at the computer working on a spreadsheet. If you are blessed with a "spreadsheet expert" gene, you might prefer that method. But for those who are tired of struggling year after year to find a record-keeping tool designed for homeschoolers by homeschoolers, this book may be your answer. The Homeschool Ledger goes to show that it is homeschoolers who create the most useful materials for other homeschoolers.

Product review by Donna Campos, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, January 2008

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