My Student Logbook was created while expecting our seventh child and homeschooling our oldest four (all aged 10 and under). I knew God wanted us to homeschool. I knew it was best for our children and best for us as a family, but I was growing weary of constantly feeling behind. I was a very busy mom and simply did not have the time required by any other organizational system I had seen. I tried so many…but I always ended up giving up because I couldn’t keep it up.
I read on Ann’s Corner at www.robinsoncurriculum.com about a system Ann made using a spiral bound notebook. Her idea was ingenious. She instructed moms who cared to use her idea to draw columns with a ruler for each day of the school year. Then label each column with the date at the top and keep a checklist sticking out the side of the book. I immediately purchased spiral bound notebooks and went to work.
Unfortunately, I don’t do very well at the drawing columns and filling in dates thing. I kept making mistakes (in pen) and not realizing I was off a day until I had written several weeks worth of dates. Busy moms don’t have time for this! I used tons of white-out, re-did the dates and continued to persevere. After much frustration and mistake-correcting I had to tend to other matters (what mom doesn’t?) When I got back to my spiral bound notebook sometime later, I realized I was only a few weeks in to my first notebook! I had a whole school year to go! I was so disappointed. And when I thought about the fact that I had to make four of these notebooks for my four school-aged children I began to tear up. I realized this was a great system that I simply could not implement.
That evening my husband, Jim, looked at the notebook I had been working on and said, “You know, the computer can do this for you.” Really? I was used to using Excel spreadsheets, but had never programed the cells to fill in dates while jumping around from page to page before. He showed me how and together we made the first format for what later would become My Student Logbook. Instead of leaving a checklist out the side, I formatted the logbook to have a fold-over checklist that lined up perfectly with the boxes in the dated columns. I took my printed logbook pages over to the print shop to add the spiral binding and was ready to put this logbook to the test of real life.
I can’t believe it! It works!
I implemented the system with our children and what amazed me was it actually worked. It really and truly worked! I couldn’t believe it. This system is the first management system I have been able to succeed with because it is so easy. It creates time for me! I loved filling in my child’s assignment list only once and then using it indefinitely until I choose to change it (usually months).
My children loved placing a checkmark in their My Student Logbooks after completing each assignment each day. I found the responsibility for completing their work slowly shifting from my shoulders to theirs. Sure, I’m still the mom and I still need to tell them to do their work, but my management has shifted from highly-directive (do this next, then this, then this) to a more coaching style (how are you doing on your work?) I had tried and failed at so many other attempts to get our homeschool organized. I cannot tell you how excited I was to finally have a system that was really working.
Then a new thought occurred to me. If this system can work for me, then it can work for anybody. Surely I’m not the only mom in the world that has had trouble getting it together (I hope). I made logbooks for a couple of friends, then a few more and finally began selling them to the broader homeschool community. Like most Christian homeschool families, we are passionate about parents loving, nurturing and mentoring their children – and that means educating them for the glory of God. The privilege of helping families succeed at their goals is rewarding beyond description.
Using My Student Logbook enables my children and I to easily see what has been done providing accountability we both need. I can also easily flip back and evaluate how we have been doing at reaching our goals. If I see we tend to miss an item, then I can be sure to give it a higher priority or re-evaluate how much we are trying to do in a day. (For me, being realistic takes conscious effort!)
In the spring of 2012, all the children struggled with colds/moderate whooping cough for over two months! I was able to flip back through their Logbooks to get a clear picture of how much we actually accomplished during that time (not much). My husband and I used that information to make the decision to do extra summer school that year.*
Using My Student Logbooks, our expectations are clearly communicated to each child. This brings peace and order to our homeschool day. I remember before using the Logbooks how my children would sometimes be in tears because they, thinking they were finally done for the day, would come to me to show me their work only to be rewarded with, “Did you remember to do……?” The work seemed infinite and they never knew when they were going to be able to go play. Even with lists on the wall (which no-one but I actually looked at), the communication simply wasn’t clear enough and this led to frustration for all of us.
This never happens now. Now they just follow their Logbook and when they have a check in each box they know they are done for the day!** They love having a simple, clear list of goals. Finally, a homeschool organization method we are all succeeding with.
My Student Logbook is coming to rescue us again. As we now enter the time to formalize our records into transcripts for our older children, we are again relying on My Student Logbook as the perfect homeschool high-school transcript record-keeping aid. We can use the boxes on the weekly page and the Books Read and Events pages in the back to keep track of subject hours for those non-textbook courses (and field-trips!) we love to do. Click on the High-School Transcripts tab for a complete article on how you can do this, too!
We learned our newest little one on the way (number 9) is a girl! Everyone is so excited. She is expected Fall 2014, right at the beginning of our school year! Am I worried?….YES! But I also know by preparing my children’s Logbooks, they will be able to plug away at their basics even with a sleep-deprived, not-very-on-top-of-things mom. The Logbooks make it easy for Dad to jump in and help evaluate, praise, council and encourage our children, too!
*In our state of Oregon, private home schooling families are not required to submit records to the government. The record-keeping benefits us as parents and make us better home education managers.
**We sometimes do “red-star days” which are basically half-days. I have on their checklists a red star next to the items I want them to do even on a short day. For us this is Bible reading, math, and piano practice. If we have a dentist/doctor apt., illness, or other reason to shorten school, I announce, “It’s a red-star day,” and they know what to do. It works well! 🙂