Trying to figure out what homeschool records to keep can seem overwhelming and complicated.
It doesn’t have to be.
Let us walk you through the factors that determine the kinds of records you need to keep.
We’ll also offer a suggested list of homeschool records for you to maintain, along with details and resources for each.
First, let’s consider the homeschool records mentioned in Iowa law and rules.
Iowa Legal Requirements
Each of Iowa’s five home education legal options present slightly different approaches to keeping homeschool records.
COMPETENT PRIVATE INSTRUCTION
If you're using one of the Competent Private Instruction (CPI) options, the law requires you to complete a minimum of 148 days of instruction per school year.
The length and structure of the instructional day is not specifically defined, so a simple attendance chart can meet this need.
Also, parents who use a CPI option that requires the filing of CPI Form A must include these attached records:
• mandated immunization evidence (or an exemption form) and
• an outline of the student's course of study for the school year.
All of the forms needed for these filings are available here.
Those using the services of an Iowa licensed supervising teacher (CPI Option 1) will probably want to keep a copy of the required teacher visit log.
This log is a private document professionally maintained by the licensed supervising teacher. It does not need to be submitted to the public school district.
Those using the annual assessment option (CPI Option 2 with Opt-In) will need to keep a copy of the student’s annual assessment results. These results are required by law to be submitted to the public school district. Read more about that process here.
INDEPENDENT PRIVATE INSTRUCTION
If you've opted for the Independent Private Instruction (IPI) option, the law requires you to provide instruction is five specific subject areas.
There is no mandate for filed certification of this, but it is a good practice to keep a list of the curricula completed by the student in each of the five subject areas each year.
Next, let’s think about your child.
Age and Grade Level Considerations
Your child's grade and age will directly determine the quantity and type of homeschool records needed.
Naturally, the homeschool records you keep for a kindergartner will be different than those you keep for a high school senior.
We’ll address this further in the sections below.
For now, let's move on to consider the dynamics of your particular homeschool.
Homeschool Style & Approach Factors
Your chosen homeschooling methods and teaching approach will affect the way you approach homeschool recordkeeping.
Which of these seven styles do you use?
The more traditional ones will produce fairly standardized homeschool records. A less conventional style, like unschooling, will require a more creative approach.
If you’re using an online or correspondence school, some of your homeschool recordkeeping will be done for you.
At last, we’re ready to list
the types of homeschool records you can keep
to provide accurate documentation
of your child’s homeschooling accomplishments.
Types of Homeschool Records
Yes, your child is living in your home with you every day. However, a homeschool attendance record reports a more specific number of days.
Attendance recording is simply a tally of the actual days your child received instruction in your homeschool.
That can include field trips, nature walks, special project work, and other similar educational activities that aren’t traditional academic seatwork.
Your attendance record can be as simple as a paper calendar with days marked off. If you’re looking for something a bit more enhanced, check out this article for ideas.
Current Homeschool Iowa members can head to our website Member Portal and download our free Homeschool Iowa planner, which includes an attendance tracking section.
Work Sample Records
Selected examples of your student’s completed schoolwork can be dated and archived in a portfolio or folder. Samples can be limited to the core subjects, but additional activities and projects can also be included.
The goal here is to present a snapshot of your student’s educational progress. This brief blog article offers ideas on what to include.
If you’re using the CPI Option 2 portfolio annual assessment, this work sample collection will be used to meet the legal requirements under this option.
PRO TIP: Except for especially treasured items, you don’t have to keep work samples forever. For younger children, you can archive a work sample collection for the current school year and the previous two years or so.
Curricula & Book List Records
Another effective way to document your student’s accomplishments is to list the curricula completed during the school year.
Of course, if you’re using a CPI legal option that requires the filing of CPI Form A, you’ll be listing these curricula on the required attached course of study outline.
Also, it’s a good practice to log the books other than textbooks that your child reads each year. You can keep a list of the books you’ve read aloud to very young children.
Our free Homeschool Iowa planner includes a book logging section. Find the planner in our website Member Portal.
If you are homeschooling a high school student, a transcript is essential.
We provide complete details and a step-by-step guide for homeschool high school transcripts in our blog.
Keeping grading records for students in elementary and middle school can also be a good practice, although it needn’t be as exhaustive.
You might use a checklist system.
Find or create a list of the skills you want your child to master. You can check them off as they are accomplished.
An end-of-year survey can be very helpful for very young children.
You can check the sample grade level scope and sequence resources on the World Book website if you need more help coming up with a checklist.
Warning: Don’t get bogged down with all of the scope and sequence details. These are suggestive tools, not restrictive requirements.
Another method is called a rubric system.
Rubrics can range from something that looks like a very simple checklist to much more detailed charts.
This article, Simple Rubric Examples for Teachers, will give you a good overview.
Of course, you can also consider giving your student letter grades, like most of us received when we attended school.
Letter grades are often based on percentages within grading scales, such as:
A = 90-100%
B = 80-89%
C = 70-79%
F = 59% and below
If you’re using textbooks or other prepared curricula, you’ll likely be provided with guidelines for awarding letter grades.
Of course, you’ll want to keep records of all of your students’ amazing accomplishments during their homeschool years.
These can include awards, honors, certificates, and photos of achievements. Also, keep a list of extracurricular activities, volunteer involvements, leadership experiences, and any other areas in which your student’s abilities were on display.
Here’s a brief list of some of the additional records you’ll want to keep.
- Copies of any filings you’ve made with the public school (e.g., CPI Form A, IPI Response Form, Privacy Form, Sports Eligibility Form, and others). You’ll find these homeschool report forms on our website.
- Duplicates or transcripts of any correspondence you’ve completed with school officials
- Copies of your student's personal documents:
- birth certificate
- social security certificate
- immunization records or immunization exemption forms
- driver education records
Homeschool Records: Done!
Keeping homeschool records is a needed task, but it doesn't have to overwhelm you.
Homeschool Iowa is here to help you on your homeschooling journey.
If you'd like more assistance, reach out to our Homeschool Iowa Regional Representative who serves your area.