Friday, January 7, 2011

Homeschool Review: Homeschool Day Book

The state we live in doesn't require that children be in school until age 8. So, we haven't had to start reporting our homeschooling yet. But in a few short months, we'll have two 8 yr olds in the house and a few short months after that, we'll begin our first year of "real homeschool". And I have to admit, having to actually KEEP RECORDS has kinda got me nervous.I've looked at a TON of different ways to keep track of what we do, both paper versions and computer versions. And while there are alot of good programs out there, I haven't found anything that works for US! Many of the programs assume you actually know which days each week you'll be doing what, and if you don't do things as planned it messes everything up. . . The paper versions either don't have enough room for my tendency to "babble" (you're shocked to hear I babble aren't you? Ha!), or it asks for too much detail and I can't keep up. NONE of the options I've looked at handled the fact that we do MOST of our schooling together - so keeping a log book for EACH child = double writing/typing. But there are some things that they do at different paces or one opts out of or whatever. Plus, as Little Bit gets older, we'll do some things as a family, "tweaking" it as needed for the age difference, but obviously she'll do some things separately. And then there's the fact that we "do school" for an hour or so, but they are LEARNING all the time. We often go long periods without doing any math during "school time", but they're learning fractions when we cook together, and doing math when they want to figure out how old Little Bit will be when they're 18 or 25 or 50 (their imaginary play is quite fun to listen to LOL). So we needed a way to keep track of at least SOME of that too.

 And then, a few days ago, I heard about the Homeschool Day Book. THIS is just what I need! It's a simple program that lets you record what you DID. And you can set up whatever subjects YOU teach (and/or your state requires that you keep records of) and YOUR children. And then for each entry, you check off all the children who participated and all the subjects that were covered.  And then you can print reports (or view them on the computer, or save them as a .pdf or excel file).  The program is set up that you record how long was spent on each item as well, and if you do that, then you can get reports for time spent. I will be intentionally NOT filling in the time since my state requires that we track days OR hours and I don't want there to be any question which I'm tracking (days), plus it saves me having to keep track of how long we spend on things, hee hee. But I *can* print off an attendance report that will show that we've met our day requirement. I can also print reports by subject to include information in our portfolio showing that we've studied the required subjects during the year. And of course, have the information on all subjects for my own records. This is a great little program, that does just what I need it to do!

One thing I wish it did is to let me choose multiple, but not all, children and/or subjects. So that I could print out a report for my two older children without including Little Bit. Right now I can either print out a report including all 3 children, or separate reports for each child. Especially useful would be to be able to print a report showing activity for the subjects required by the state, but not our "electives". Again, I can print a report for all subjects or individual subjects. Not a huge deal to have a separate report for each subject, or to print a report for all subjects and just use the information for those I need in our portfolio, but it would be a nice feature.

A more complex change would be to somehow have it on my Android (smartphone). I'm not sure how that would work since it's not a web based program, but it sure would be nice to be able to input entries on my phone on days when we're gone all day doing alot of things. Until then, I'll probably still make notes on my phone (probably in Evernote), and then transfer those to my Day Book when I'm back to my computer. But again, it would be nice . . .

This is such a great concept, it works equally well for unschoolers or classical homeschoolers (and everyone in between)! I'm so excited that someone thought to do this, and the timing is perfect for me, gives me time to play with it the rest of this year and be all ready to go next year!

Disclaimer: I wrote this review in response to Homeschool Day Book's offer to provide a permanent license, free of charge, to any bloggers willing to write a review of the trial version. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.


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