Homeschool record keeping is an important responsibility for parents whose kids learn at home. Which homeschool records you should keep depends on where you live, the ages and stages of your kids, and your approach to homeschooling.
Good homeschool record keeping shows your family is in compliance with education laws and can help homeschool graduates transition to their adult lives more smoothly.
Why you need homeschool records
You may need homeschool records for:
Legal requirements. Find out your state requirements for homeschooling. You may need to keep specific records to show you are in compliance with the law.
School enrollment. If your child needs to transition from homeschool to public school (or private school), you may be asked for records to help with grade placement.
Educator discounts. "Homeschool paperwork" or your homeschool org's ID card might qualify you for a discount at a teacher supply store, bookstore, or the local science museum. As an educator, you might even qualify to borrow more than the usual number of library books or to renew books for an extra period of time.
Memory keeping. Homeschool record keeping may also satisfy a parent's future sentimentality. While flipping through old attendance logs (required in a few states) may not have much meaning (our homeschooled kids were always "present!"), looking through photos of field trips and viewing samples of completed lessons may some day stir good memories of time spent helping your children learn.
Assessments. Having homeschool records, especially those that portray what a child has read, learned and done, can help you reflect on the education you are providing for your children. "Have we done enough?" is a question that can often be answered by looking through a homeschool portfolio or tracking through homeschool records. Homeschoolers may need these same records to meet legal requirements.
High school credit transfer. Enrolling a homeschooled teen in public high school has special considerations. In lower grades, children are often placed in a grade with their age mates, but high school students transferring homeschool credits to public high school may find the process to be difficult or impossible. Records may help.
Drivers license requirement. You might be surprised to find that in some states, getting a drivers license before age 18 may require evidence of school attendance or legal homeschooling—and getting a discount on car insurance for a teen driver may require a school- or parent-generated report card!
Jobs, awards, and scholarship opportunities. When your child is applying for jobs, scholarships, or special opportunities, they may need information from your homeschool records, so they can complete forms or create a resume.
College admission. In some places, a teen who wants to dual enroll in community college classes during their high school years will need to submit paperwork showing they are legal homeschoolers. In some states, showing you are a legal homeschooler may make community college classes free or less expensive. Homeschool grads also need their high school transcripts to apply to four-year colleges and universities, even if they attended community college first.
Future proofing. At some point, our children will be living independently and making adult decisions. Every homeschooled graduate deserves a high school transcript—possibly the most important document in our homeschool records—to help them navigate through their life's decisions.
Although the idea of creating a transcript may seem intimidating, it's actually a simple process. We have answers to all of your homeschool transcript questions (and give you a free transcript spreadsheet template).
As homeschool parents, we think we'll remember details of our kids' learning, their curriculum, and their activities, but time has a way of dulling dates and details. Homeschool record keeping to the rescue!
What homeschool records you need
As we've explained, each state in the United States has unique requirements for homeschool records. Families who homeschool through a charter school or parent partnership—or who receive funding for homeschooling—may be subject to additional or different requirements. (See homeschool hybrids to learn more).
Depending on where you live and your specific approach, you may be required to submit and/or keep on file any of the following records:
- copy of notice of intent to homeschool or other paperwork that initiates homeschooling
- paperwork indicating withdrawal from public school
- evidence of "umbrella school" enrollment
- attendance record
- homeschool hours log
- names/titles of curricula; lessons completed
- names/titles of supplementary resources
- subjects/courses completed
- report cards
- annual test scores
- annual assessments such as evaluation letters, progress reports, or supervising teacher reports
- immunization records for homeschooled children
Check the above list of possible requirements against your state's actual homeschool requirements.
In your files (paper, on your computer, or both), keep your own copy of any required homeschool records you submit to education administrators. In some states, homeschoolers also keep proof of submission of these records, such as delivery receipts or sent emails. That helps if your document goes astray in a busy school administrator's office.
(Some states require parents to submit paperwork to the school division where they live; some states require parents to submit paperwork to their state education department; some states do not have required paperwork).
Don't over-comply with homeschool requirements. If homeschoolers in your state don't need attendance records or hours logs, you don't need to track or create those homeschool records or submit them to anyone.
In fact, over-compliance with homeschool laws could create a problem if some homeschoolers submit "extra" and incidentally raise expectations for all homeschoolers.
As for awarding grades or creating report cards with A, B, C, D or F, in most states (but maybe not yours, so check!), those are among the school customs homeschoolers don't have to follow at least until high school.
Some homeschoolers in some states must participate in periodic assessment or evaluation meetings with a teacher, evaluator, or administrator. Ask the person you will meet with to provide guidelines for what they want to see or hear about during assessment meetings. Then you'll know what records to keep for those assessments.
What to keep for homeschool portfolios
A homeschool portfolio is just the fancy name for a collection of materials that show a child's or teen's learning and educational activities. Some homeschoolers create and share a physical or digital portfolio as part of their homeschool record keeping that is reviewed during homeschool assessments.
A physical portfolio might be arranged in a notebook, file folders, or a special box. A digital portfolio might consist of computer files or reside on an online app, platform or website.
Assessment meetings and homeschool portfolios may be enhanced by keeping:
- a book list
- a field trip list
- a documentary & film list
- a projects list
- an experiments list
- work samples
- original product (writing, research, project documentation, art work, music recordings, etc.)
- photos, screen shots, or videos of activities or original work
- video or audio recordings of skills that have been mastered
Portfolios are useful in some college and job applications, too. For example, a student who wants to major in art may have an art portfolio to show their technique and the scope of their work.
Homeschooled students who are preparing portfolios for college admission should research best practices for submitting portfolios in their field.
Portfolios are especially good record keeping options for unschooling families and those using project-based learning. Portfolios capture learning that happened rather than counting up how a student completed planned lessons in a curriculum.
Families who don't use a "curriculum-and-assignments" approach to homeschooling may wonder how to meet certain requirements. Ask long-term unschoolers in your state or community how they keep records to show their homeschooling is legal while creating a rich education for their kids.
What to keep for high school homeschool records
Additional homeschool records are needed for the high school years. While this task can feel overwhelming, remember that you are simply trying to keep up with information that will tell the story of your child's high school years.
High schoolers who intend to go to college, apply for scholarships, start a business, or apply for jobs may need records of:
- grades (most common) or narrative assessments (not accepted by most colleges and universities but welcome at some niche institutions)
- GPA (a calculated Grade Point Average for high school credits)
- PSAT, ACT, SAT, AP, or CLEP test results, if those tests are taken (not necessarily required; do your research)
- notes about high school learning
- to help parents generate course/credit descriptions (required by some colleges)
- to help parents create high school transcripts
- classes taken online, at homeschool co-ops and through community organizations
- classes taken at community college
- work with tutors, mentors and subject area experts
- outside evidence of a homeschooler's college readiness
- high school teachers' and mentors' contact information & letters of recommendation
- volunteer records (organization, duties, hours, supervisor's name)
- awards and achievements
- sports and activities
- employment and entrepreneurship experience
- professional documentation of learning disabilities resulting in need for accommodations
- high school transcripts, created by the homeschool parent
- some states have specific high school credits required for homeschoolers
- some states have no high school credits required for homeschoolers
- universities, trade schools, and the military may have specific requirements for admission.
Keep notes of incidental learning that may be happening outside of any planned courses. Many parents find that over two or three high school years, a teen has learned enough in an area of interest to earn a credit even where there was no formal course. This often becomes obvious as a parent looks back over several years of notes.
Begin keeping notes (in a notebook! in a Google doc! thrown into a box!) about what your child is learning and the resources they are using, even if you have not decided on a specific or formal record keeping system or transcript template.
You'll thank us later!
Read more about how to homeschool high school.
Homeschool record keeping tools
Don't overthink it. A paper calendar with checkmarks can record "attendance" (unless your state has specific forms you must use). You can also use hashmarks for each hour or a small numeral for the total number of educational hours each day. The events on your calendar provide a record of field trips. You can jot down mastery and content notes: "got long division!" "wrote good essay!" "discussed black holes."
Digital calendars can be used the same way.
THSM Free Record Keepers
TheHomeSchoolMom has two free planners that include homeschool record keeping features. Our Printable Homeschool Planner includes pages to record attendance, activities, and even unschooling records.
You can use our Digital Homeschool Planner to keep attendance records, track learning hours, create report cards, and calculate GPAs.
Planners as Record Keepers
Some commercially available homeschool planners are planners first, with a little bit of homeschool record keeping included.
Some homeschool record keepers are record keepers first, with some homeschool planner features included.
Some homeschool planners intentionally and thoroughly incorporate record keeping. They may have special sections or allow you to add customized sections for the records you need.
Advantages of using a planner for record keeping:
- past planning becomes completed work
- you're probably touching your planner daily - it's handy!
- may have features that auto-complete some records, such as quiz and test scores
- a planner's record keeping feature may remind you of a record you do need to keep
Disadvantages of using a planner for record keeping
- in a paper planner, record keeping sections add weight and bulk
- in a planner you carry with you, you may lose or unintentionally share your child's private info
- record keeping features may cause you to stress about records you don't even need
- planners may omit the specific record keeping pages you need to meet your state's requirements
Homeschool planners are a big topic on their own, and in our separate homeschool planners post you'll find descriptions of and links to the many specialized digital planning/record keeping websites for homeschoolers. Here are just a few examples of what you will find in that post:
- Homeschool Skedtrack: This is a free online homeschool planner and tracker that allows you to create schedules, record grades, track attendance, and generate reports. Its best feature is its flexibility, as it allows you to customize your schedule and grading system to fit your unique homeschooling approach.
- Homeschool Tracker: This comprehensive homeschooling software allows you to manage all aspects of your homeschooling, including lesson planning, grading, attendance, report cards, and scheduling. Parents can generate customized reports that can be used for transcript creation and college applications.
- My School Year: This online homeschooling record keeper that allows you to track attendance, grades, lesson plans, and more. Free trial.
- Homeschool Planet: This web-based homeschool planner allows you to create schedules, track grades, and generate reports. Parents appreciate they can reschedule missed lessons and assignments in Homeschool Planet.
We also have more information and ten sample templates for homeschool schedules.
Notebooks and Journals
You can put printable homeschool record keeping pages in notebooks that have rings or discs.
Create your own printable pages or use templates from TheHomeSchoolMom (free), or buy pre-designed homeschool record keeping templates from Etsy or Teachers Pay Teachers.
The bullet journal format also works well for keeping homeschool records. Check out Aaronica B. Cole's homeschool bullet journal, which includes spreads for homeschool attendance, field trips, websites and library books consulted, books read, and more.
Homeschool parents are famous for tweaking apps designed for collaboration, note taking, and productivity for use in keeping homeschool records.
Evernote, OneNote, Notable, and Nebo are just a few examples.
If you love an app like Trello or Asana, adapt it to keep your homeschool records.
Online tools provide a great way to create a digital portfolio of your child's homeschool work, which can be used to track progress, showcase achievements, and reflect on your child's learning experiences.
- Seesaw: Seesaw is an online learning platform that allows students and teachers to create digital portfolios. You can use Seesaw to create a portfolio of your child's work, including photos, videos, audio recordings, and written work. Seesaw is designed for schools, so you'll sign up as the teacher. The Blue Brain Teacher explains how she sets up Seesaw for homeschool portfolios.
- Private social media accounts: Private social media accounts such as Facebook and Instagram can be used to create digital portfolios of your child's work. You can post photos, videos, and written work to your child's account and use the platform to showcase your child's progress and accomplishments.
- Free blogging platforms: Free blogging platforms such as WordPress and Blogger, can be used to create a digital portfolio of your child's work. You can create a blog and post photos, videos, and written work to document your child's progress throughout the homeschool year. You can use the blog as a platform to reflect on your child's learning experiences and share insights with other homeschool parents—or keep it private and share it only with a homeschool evaluator.
- Online slide shows: Online slide shows, such as Google Slides and PowerPoint Online, can be used to create a digital portfolio of your child's work. You can create a slide show that showcases your child's best work from the homeschool year, including photos, videos, and written work.
Homeschool record keeping is an important aspect of overall homeschool organization, which includes attention to how we'll spend our time homeschooling, how we'll plan and reflect on our children's learning, and how we'll organize the space and resources in our home.
FAQs about homeschool record keeping
How long should I keep homeschool records?
Protect high school records as permanently as possible. Give your child hard copies of their high school transcripts, keep hard copies in your own files, and also store their transcripts digitally by emailing them a PDF, storing on your computer, and storing in the cloud using a service like Google Drive.
Check in with your young adult homeschool grads to be sure they can still put their hands on their transcripts by the time they are in their mid-twenties.
If your homeschooled high schooler may want to attend school in the future, be sure you understand potential challenges in transferring homeschool credits to public high school. More detailed records of your teen's learning may be important if you do someday try to get homeschool credits to transfer to public high school. Keep any notes and communication from school counselors and administrators to help show your teen followed their instructions for learning at home in ways they said could result in homeschool credits being accepted by the school.
Follow your state homeschool organization's recommendations for how long to keep other homeschool records. Certainly, keeping basic records for at least two or three years is not a burden. Homeschool laws typically do a good job of protecting homeschoolers, but being able to produce an organized file of your state's required records can help you if you are ever asked about compliance.
You don't need to keep stacks of old workbooks and completed curriculum assignments from previous years unless you want them for academic review or for sentimental reasons. Some people may keep selected samples as part of homeschool portfolios they create each year.
What records do you need to keep for homeschooling?
Your homeschool record keeping should include:
- records required by your state homeschool law
- records you may need if your child were to enroll in school
- records your child may need to apply to college, create a resume, apply to a job, or enter the military
Check our state and local resources to find out your state requirements for homeschooling, which will include what records you need to keep where you live.
See our list of types of homeschool records you may need to keep.
How do homeschoolers keep track of grades?
Parents can track grades by recording them in a paper or digital homeschool record keeping system. You can create your own system, use your own notebook, use a crowd-sourced printable template you find online, or use one of the commercially available homeschool record keepers.
Homeschooling parents don't necessarily give scores or grades like A, B, C, D or F, especially before the high school years. They may provide feedback on learning through discussion and review with their child.
For high school, parents place final grades for each credit on a high school transcript they create.
That said, depending on their approach to homeschooling, some parents do use a curriculum with specific assignments that can be scored numerically or with a letter grade.
How do you keep homeschool attendance records?
Many states do not require parents to keep homeschool attendance records, but some do. Check your state homeschool requirements to determine whether you need to keep homeschool attendance records and whether you must keep the records in any certain format.
In some states, you may be required to keep the record in your own file, but you may not have to submit the record unless it's requested. In other states or for some charter schools or parent partnerships, attendance records must be submitted regularly.
If no specific format is required, you can use a calendar (paper or digital), a page in your notebook or journal, or a commercially available homeschool record keeping website or program to keep attendance.
Check with homeschoolers in your area about the culture of keeping attendance records where you live. Because "attendance" originated as a school idea, many people in the homeschool world don't think the concept transfers readily to children who are present and learning in a family atmosphere every day. They confidently mark their child in attendance for the required number of days for each year but don't think the idea makes a lot of sense for homeschoolers.
Some states may define "attendance" in particular ways, such as days when children are actively learning lessons. You may need to pay attention to these definitions to abide by the requirement.
That said, many homeschoolers don't arrange learning into formal lessons, so their attendance records will show children present on days when natural and incidental learning have occurred. Homeschooling families know these can be some of the most meaningful days of learning.
What should be included in a homeschool report card?
Most homeschool parents don't give report cards—after all, report cards were invented as a way for teachers to help parents know how students were doing, and homeschool parents already know!
That said, there may be special circumstances where homeschoolers want or need report cards:
- Kids coming from school may be used to them and want to continue the tradition.
- Parents may feel certain students do better with report cards.
- Parents may also have state or charter school requirements to create report cards. (Ironically, this turns the original purpose of report cards on its head—now parents are letting the education officials know how students are doing by way of a report card—instead of the other way around!)
- There may be times report cards are needed for things like insurance discounts for teen drivers.
Some homeschool record keepers generate printable report cards, or you can create a report card. There are also printable report card templates online.
A homeschool report card should include:
- the school year
- date of the report card
- child's name
- child's grade level (if you use grade levels)
- a grade for each subject studied
- name of your homeschool, if you use a homeschool name
- your signature
Some homeschool curricula and online record keeping programs may generate report cards. If you have to submit report cards as part of a state or charter school assessment, check to see if these kinds of report cards meet the requirements in your state.
How do I create a homeschool portfolio?
Create a homeschool portfolio by collecting samples, documents, completed curriculum, records, photos, and videos that illustrate your child's learning.
Your portfolio could be tangible—stuff in a notebook or box—or digital—stuff kept in a file on your computer, on a website, or in an app.
Read more about what to gather in a homeschool portfolio and possible tools you can use to create one.