Keeping Track in a Busy Homeschool Day

There’s a lot to keep track of when you’re homeschooling multiple kids. Chores, reading, math, writing, and various other activities all require some kind of accountability.

If we think our kids don’t need accountability, we’re going to have a sad wakeup call eventually. They do need it.

If we don’t care enough to check up on them and the quality and consistency of their work – regularly – they will not care enough to do it.

And then the problem is not their work ethic, but ours. If we want them to care, we are the ones who must care.

That starts with keeping track of what each person is supposed to be doing. We can’t check up on work we aren’t tracking, and the easier it is to track, the easier it is to check.

Last year we solidified our kids’ weekly school checklists on Trello. It works for us well after some adapting and learning and practice. But it turns out that it’s too much clicking to be useful for me to track everyone readily.

Our Trello checklists make a Monday Meeting check smooth and thorough, but the middle-of-the-day “Did you turn in all your work?” check is a little more difficult.

I realized that I needed an at-a-glance summary on paper I could pull out and run through quickly – did I hear 4 sets of piano practicing? are the right number of math pages turned in? did we do handwriting?

This is no special, beautifully designed list. It’s a table with a row for each student and a column for each day. It has 7-point-font lists in each square for what needs to be done. It’s merely a quick reference, and it’s helped my sanity tremendously.

No more groping through mental lists that stall and crash more often than Instagram on my iPhone 4. I don’t have to stare blankly at the child proclaiming he’s done thinking, “Hm. But…what about…that one thing…are you sure you did everything?” Nope. Now I glance over and say, “So, you finished your math page? Turned it in? Practiced piano? Practiced your spelling words? Did your Latin? Read to your sister?”

8 out of 10 reports that school is finished are false alarms.

This simple little list helps me make sure those false alarms don’t turn into alarming levels of uncompleted work.

Simple. Effective.

Mostly, it sits on my clipboard and reminds me that yes, I do need to check on each of these items, every day, if I’m doing my job.

It’s way easier to catch up on missed work – whatever the excuse or non-excuse for it – when it’s caught early than when it’s been months since I’ve actually asked probing questions.

Ask me how I know. I know from both sides of that experience – homeschool student and homeschool mom – and neither is good. The finding out and carrying through is hard, but persisting in the habit of not doing assigned work is worse.

So I check, and a simple little table is my mental crutch.

Here’s a walk-through, show-and-tell video of my very-not-fancy at-a-glance weekly work reference:

Mentioned in this video:

P.S. – Take the 5-Day Calendar Challenge!

Before schedules fill up, take the free 5-Day Calendar Challenge to set your calendar and make it work in the muddle of real life.

With 1-2 quick, simple steps each day, the Calendar Challenge – arriving by email – will help you figure out your own calendar routines so that your calendar is always complete, accurate, and useful.

Your calendar is your #1 life-organization tool and I want to help you make it strong so you can be calm and stable, no matter how full that calendar gets.

Learn more:

4 Responses

  1. Stefani
    | Reply

    Yes, tracking is a must! I have checklists for each of my three children. They are supposed to check items off themselves, but that doesn’t always happen, and I run through the checklist either mentally or with my child to make sure everything got done either way.
    Actually their checklists look pretty horrendous because I learned several years ago to put each and every item (no matter how small!) on the list. For example, I tried to do memory work with literature, but as the list only said “Literature” it often was forgotten. Whoops! Fixed it, but now their lists look like I’m some sort of slave driver with so many items! LOL

  2. Michelle L Newbold
    | Reply

    I would love to have a downloadable template of this checklist so I can edit it. Do you have one handy? I searched around and didn’t see it. I did download the weekly review but since I don’t have Microsoft Word I think it distorted some. I tried it in Open Office and Google docs. Google docs was better but not perfect I think.

  3. Monica
    | Reply

    Looking forward to your insights on Monday Meetings!!!

  4. Lisa
    | Reply

    I’m glad I’m not the only slave driver! :)
    If it takes more than five minutes to do, and I expect them to do it, I have to write it down. Or they’ll forget, and I’ll forget.
    I also had a realization that every item I’m putting on anyone’s checklist is really an item on my checklist, because I’m agreeing to check that they did it. No wonder I need lists! I certainly can’t keep track of 100 items per week.
    And I have to say, they do develop a real sense of accomplishment when they see how hard they work.

Leave a Reply