Report Cards & Transcripts

There are a lot of good websites out there with instructions about how to create your own school report cards and transcripts. I thought I’d add to that with what I did for my school!

Here’s a picture of our elementary school report card.

Report Card Photo

For elementary school, we were always listed as an “ungraded elementary school”. So I didn’t have a 1st grader and a 3rd grader. My oldest was in “Year 3” and the youngest was in “Year 1” at our school. We also didn’t do letter grades, which I believe a lot of public elementary schools are also doing. We used the following scale.

4 = The student has demonstrated excellent achievement of grade level expectations.
3 = The student has demonstrated good achievement of grade level expectations.
2 = The student has demonstrated basic achievement of grade level expectations.
1 = The student is not meeting grade level expectations.

I chose the grade according to how I actually felt they were doing. Our school’s “grade level expectations” were our own and most likely not the same as other schools. That is true for all schools. Grades are very subjective! And generally they were always “meeting expectations”. When I ask them a question from what we are reading and they can answer, they are meeting the grade level expectations of English. If my little guy can play with an orange as he takes it apart and counts the sections, I may jump in and tell him he’s eating 1/8th of that orange. He’s meeting expectations. Their whole elementary career worked that way. There were no tests to grade.

I also left a comment for each child each semester. This is the part that I really put a lot of thought into. I kept a calendar of all the things we were doing and reading each day and a journal where I’d make a note about things I found awesome about them, things that worried me, things I thought they should probably work on. No one saw it but me, but at the end of each quarter I’d sit with that journal and calendar and think of a positive to write for each child. I’d write things like “Jake is an amazing reader and really loves to tell stories with his pictures.” and “Tom’s handwriting ability is really improving.” That was the end of the report cards.

Transcripts for high school I thought would be a bit tougher and at first they were. We still don’t do tests but my kids are always learning and they are learning quite a bit. My secondary school is “unaccredited” and I know that means that my grades won’t be taken for face value by a big university, but they are still real grades and they do count for things like “Good Driver Discounts” for car insurance and entry into community college. They will most likely have to take placement tests for some college classes and that’s fine. If, when the time comes, they are interested in applying to a school that needs a stronger presence, the transcripts will only be the background of an awesome portfolio that doesn’t include tests and averages.

If you are using some sort of curriculum for your home school, you can use the grades and evaluations from that. I recently read a very encouraging article on “The Home Scholar” called “How to Assign Grades without Grading”. I suggest you check it out for your elementary and secondary students!

Here’s a picture of the template I’m using for my sons’ high school template.

HS Transcript with Grades PhotoYou would include each “class” they took. We don’t use a curriculum, but we are taking “Language Arts 1” in Year 9. I see them reading great books, discussing movies and plays, learning new words, writing letters, blog posts, and comments to friends, so they received an A for that class. If one of my kids was very into writing stories and plays, I would call it “Language Arts – Creative Writing.”

I hope this helps ease your mind and give you some ideas about report cards. If you’d like the use this file at your own school, you are welcome to email me at info@californiadeserthomeschoolers.com and I’ll send it out to you!

Faculty List & Enrollment Forms

Welcome to the next post in my “Private School Paperwork” series!

This one is kind of boring but, like I said, I like forms and creating them. You can easily make your own, but if you don’t want to or like to, you are welcome to use mine! All you need to do is email me at info@californiadeserthomeschoolers.com and I’ll send you the file.

Here’s a picture of the “Faculty List & Qualifications” form I made for my school. It’s one of the forms every private school needs to keep in its files.

Educator Enrollment PhotoIn the state of California, private school teachers must be “capable of teaching”. What qualifies one to teach is determined by each school individually. A larger “for-profit” or church school may require a teaching credential or degree, but they are not required to do so by law. Your school can set its own qualifications for its teachers as well. So, did you finish high school? Go to college? Some college? Run a business, work a job, volunteer somewhere? Think about your own resume. What do you think makes you a person qualified to pass along information to your own children? You can put as little or as much information as you please on this form, but I consider it a good exercise to build up our confidence, especially when we are first getting started. Also, it isn’t required that your teachers be finger-printed or have a background check since the only students at the school are related to the teacher.

Once your new private school has a name and you’ve “hired” a teacher, you’re ready to enroll a student! Private schools in California are required to keep certain information about each student at their school. When you enroll in any school, that school creates a file and collects that data for their records. When you transfer from one school to another, that file is requested by the new school and kept with any new records from that school. Elementary school records don’t have much in them when you’re homeschooling privately. Mine have the enrollment form and related documents, attendance records, a list of subjects studied each year, and any report cards I may have generated. If you’re pulling your child out of another school and enrolling him in yours, you’ll be asking for that file and it will be interesting to see what the school kept on file for your child. When I pulled my son from 1st grade after Kinder, there was little there, of course.

The documents that must be on file (Cummulative File) with a student at his school are the following:

-Enrollment form including the legal name of student, date of birth, sex of pupil, and name and address of the parents.
-Copy of birth certificate.
-Entering and leaving date of each school year. This can be on the “report card”.
-Subjects taken during each year. This can be in the form of a “report card”.
-Marks, grades or credits if given. Marks or credits toward high school graduation.
-Date of high school graduation or CHSPE, GED equivalent.
-Health and Immunization Records.
-Attendance Records, indicating every absence of a half day or more.

Here is a picture of my Enrollment Form. Again, you’re welcome to use it if you like, just shoot me an email.

Enrollment Form Photo

What in the world is a lapbook?

We’re already through half of the first session of our small homeschool group’s enrichment classes. I think they have gone really well! We’re already talking about the next six week session. While I was scrolling through my homeschool feeds, I came across lapbook ideas and thought it might be fun to do one with our group. I found the idea years ago when my boys were little and tried a couple times with them, but they never were very big into arts and crafts so it really didn’t go over big. But I think it might work well with our group. And it might go well with your family, too!

The great part about lapbooks is that you can use them with a large range of ages. Younger children can do simpler parts and older children can do the more complex parts. Older kids can help the younger ones as well. It can lead younger children to bigger ideas and give the older kids experience in helping others.

Lapbooks also come in a range of prices, even free. You can also buy them fully laid out for you, you can use pieces of one, or make one up on your own. Our group is probably going to use a free one from Homeschoolshare. You download it and everything from the lesson plan to printouts are all ready to do. I’ll just read through it and pick out which ones we’ll do each week. I’ll send some parts home with the kids so they can work on them at home if they want to do more.

But what is a lapbook?! It’s a manila folder you fold in such a way to make a book cover. On it and in it kids cut, paste, color, and write related to a certain topic or book. We’re going to do a book we’ll be reading together. You can have research about things in the book, vocabulary words, creative writing, art, history, math, science, all related to the book inside the cover of your lab book. At the end you have a representation to look at and keep of all the things we learned while reading the book. It’s pretty cool.

I was inspired to do this because when we did the Sierpinski Triangles so many of our awesome kids came back with some pretty spectacular artwork. It looks like we have a crafty bunch and I bet they’d like to do something like this with me.

How to Homeschool for Free has a list of websites that offer lapbook printables. You’ll have to look around and find one you really like. Take your kids with you while you online shop. They’ll learn so much more if they are doing a topic they are interested in learning more about.

By the way, I think the reason I really like the lapbook idea is because it follows a principle we’ve had about reading to the kids. We’ve always read aloud to the kids. When they were tiny they’d each pick a bedtime story and then I’d read a chapter from a book I thought they might be interested in. These books were harder than anything they would have been able to read on their own. And it wasn’t time to sit quietly and listen. There were many stops and starts for questions. Some of the words they didn’t know and I had to explain. Sometimes I had to tell them what might have been happening when the story was set. Or one of the kids felt they just had to comment about the situation being read. Labooking just extends what we do outloud onto paper and adds an element of crafts. We still read aloud as a family, although they’ve gotten beyond bedtime stories now. This has been pretty much they only type of school they know. Reading, discussing, watching, questioning, and experiencing. It has done amazing things for our family, not only for them but for their Dad and I too!

Scholastic Printables

Do you remember Scholastic Book Fairs at school when you were a kid? I looked forward to browsing through the books and picking my favorites. When my boys were little we went to their big warehouse sales in Anaheim and found loads of treasures.

Today when I was searching for ideas about how to experiment with topology, I came across Scholastic Printables! You can pay them by the month or by the year and print all you like. They have very nice printable pages to give your kids all kinds of ideas and inspiration in all subjects.

In fact, I’m pretty sure you could create enough lesson plans to cover most of the required subjects for the entire year from their Teacher Resource page!