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How To Record Homeschool Activities You Actually Do: Homeschool Organization Series Part 3

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I’m a big believer that keeping homeschool records is very, very important (even if your state doesn’t require it). You just never know when you may need it to prove learning is happening at home. At first, I thought I’d just keep samples each year from our curriculum books. But that misses SO much of our homeschool life! And, many subjects we cover don’t have worksheets to file away but I still want to record that we did them.

That’s when I did heard about “reverse planning”. It’s simply recording homeschool activities you actually do, after you do them. I’ll show you how easy this is and my system for it!

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homeschool record keeping using reverse planning

More homeschool organization posts

This post is part 3 in my homeschool organization series where I’m sharing all our systems we have in place. Here are the others I’ve written so far:

Why writing in a homeschool planner ahead of time doesn’t work for our family

So here’s my struggle with planners. I don’t want to spend time writing out our weekly plan for each kid, only to change plans and then have to rerecord what we actually do. Because we always veer from the plan. Here’s our first grade and kindergarten curriculum choices for 2020-2021 if you want to see.

I do like to see the calendar month at a glance so I can see what we have going on that week like going to the dentist, co-op, play dates, etc. But for actual schoolwork, no planner please.

That’s why I was so intrigued to learn about reverse planning (first through Kristy from Simply Living It)

How we know what to do each day if we don’t write it down ahead of time

I’m realizing that I am the type of homeschool mom (in the making) that prefers a loose plan. Because I just never know what I’ll have energy for. Plus, I love leaving room in our day to see what they will create and discover on their own.

By “loose plan” I mean I’ve got an idea of what subjects I want to do daily with my 1st grader and kindergartener and preschooler. I’ve got a bin of library books by the couch that need to be read. There’s always a living history book in my bin we try to read a couple times each week. We have a nature study topic I hope to cover. And the rest is either on a loop or just spontaneous learning.

I’ll explain how we use our loop schedule instead of lesson plans at the end of this post. But first, I want to show you how to record homeschool activities you actually do, as promised.

What is reverse planning?

Reverse homeschool planning is writing down what you did that day after you did it. You can record a lot of detail or not!

I use this simple and very cheap planner, and record our completed activities for 2 kids each night, or as we do them. I was going to make my own planner, but this was way too cheap not to try and it came bound.

Here’s a visual for you to see what I wrote down for one week. Sorry it’s in pencil so not super dark.

Inside one week of a homeschool planner showing reverse planning.

How I record our activities using this reverse homeschool planner

So you can see, on the left side I write the subjects we want to record. This will be different for you, and will change for us based on age and priorities too.

Then there’s the days of the week column. For subjects that include the whole family like bible and nature study, I just write what we did under “Monday” next to each subject.

For subjects the kids do separately (math and language arts) I write their initial along with what lesson they did. You can be specific, or just write the lesson number. I feel like I could squeeze 3 kids into this reverse planner, but that would be pushing it.

If we did nothing that day next to a subject, it stays blank. And that’s it guys! A little bit of jotting down each day, and you will have a complete record of everything you did with the family for your homeschool year 🙂

Of course, you’ll want to keep some actual samples in a homeschool records binder, but that’s another post.

reverse homeschool planning example

What to do with the planner at the end of the school year?

I plan on dropping this planner “as is” into our homeschool records filing system at the end of the year. So I could potentially have one a year for as long as we homeschool!

I think someday it will be a treat for me as a mom to flip back through some of the activities I did with the kids. Both outdoors, art projects, books, and more.

It’s our first year keeping physical records, so I’ll update this with a link to how we do that as soon as I write a post on it for you.

What’s not included in this homeschool planner

I wish this planner had pages for book lists we have read. It doesn’t. But it does have a “notes” section on each of the 12 months, so I may just turn that into our read aloud section so I can record our books.

It also doesn’t have space for any other type of organizing, like meal planning or grocery lists (which I’m terrible at doing/don’t do anyway).

It’s literally just the months of the year followed by 5 weekly pages like the one I showed you above, and then it repeats.

It DOES have an attendance tracker in the back, so I should be able to check off 180 days in one spot to help me keep track of that, although I’m 100% not worried about that.

Why we love using a loop schedule instead of a lesson plan

Earlier I spoke of our loop schedule which gives me an idea of what to accomplish each day. Here’s how I use it instead of planning ahead of time!

Like I said, I know the daily work for them (math, language arts, and copywork). We just do the next lesson in order. Lesson 42, then lesson 43, etc.

Subjects that aren’t daily go on a loop so I don’t forget to do them. I do one thing on the loop each day, if not 2, and rotate through. Things like science (nature study), history, geography games, and poetry. So in essence, my loop schedule is my “planner” and it hangs on my fridge. Here’s what it looks like.

Homeschool Loop Schedule

You can find my loop schedule here!

Hope you found this super helpful! If so would you take a moment to pin this to Pinterest or share on Facebook? Also feel free to ask anything below and I’ll be sure to answer your questions.

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Exploring Nature With Children Filing System: Homeschool Organization Series Part 2
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The Homeschool Crate System: How To Organize One Year Of Curriculum
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Melissa

Monday 12th of October 2020

I went ahead and purchased the planner. I really liked it and the video reviews on there were very helpful as to seeing how the layout of the planner looked. I really like the idea you have here with planning for homeschool. I have found out within the first 6 weeks of school we are overwhelmed by the scheduling portion. Some days are just better than others, but on another note it's easier to track this way instead of trying to CRAM everything in. This is more laid back, but also efficient too. Thanks for your post and hard work.

Liz

Monday 12th of October 2020

Yay! I don't think you'll be disappointed! I could see planning in advance taking a lot of time, especially for people who don't use curriculum and have to make their own. Since most curriculum just has you do the next day's lesson, it's easy to record in this planner after you do it. I hope you enjoy it and are able to look back on your days and see how rich they really are. Especially if you decide to write down other work too like baking and time spent in nature and read alouds. Thanks for stopping by!

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