Little Log Cottage School

The Most Important Organizational Tool For Your Homeschool


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record keeping

It’s no secret.  I’m addicted to planning for my homeschool.  My husband, kids, and friends often joke about my teacher addiction.  Keeping organizational charts are a must for any teacher.

I could spend morning, afternoon, and night sitting in front of my computer planning out my units and lessons for the year but all of that wouldn’t matter if I didn’t have the one organizational tool vital for all teachers….. mastery checklists.

You may call them record keepers or grade books, but the concept is the same.  You can’t run an effective homeschool if you aren’t keeping up with your kids’ mastery of skills.

When I was a classroom teacher I used a grade book.  Later I decided to go even deeper with my record keeping and keep a check list of skills for every single student.  With 20 kids in my class that was an absolute failure.  But then April (The Glitter Tree) and I came up with a better way to keep track of the mastery of skills.

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Let me share with you the reason keeping an ongoing mastery record on each of your children is important.  Then I’ll show you some different ways you can try it for yourself.

Keeping a mastery check list is more than just record keeping.  More often than not, keeping up with grades can be a hassle and a lot of commitment.  This check list should be what is driving your lessons.  Let’s say your child had a hard time on his vocabulary game.  It would be easy to go to your master skill check list, write down the date and then write a NM (non mastered) beside, “Vocabulary.”  This let’s you know you need to revisit those vocabulary words at a later date.  This keeps your child from sliding through the cracks and keeps you aware of what lessons need to be retaught.

How to Get Started With Your Mastery Check list.

1. Go to your state standards website (or wherever you go to get your skills)

2. Make a spreadsheet of all the skills you will teach for the year.

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The above image is our mastery checklist for one of our stories in our Vocabulary ELA Unit.

3. Whatever unit you are beginning make sure to record all the skills you are covering.  These skills will be recorded so you can check the appropriate column when the unit is finished.

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4. You can take some time to record the skills of each unit before you start school, or you can record the skills before you begin each unit.

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The above image is another mastery check list from our first unit.  April (The Glitter Tree) and I recorded the skills that fell under Word Work and Writing.

5. Hole punch and keep these in a binder for each kid.  You can use tabs to separate each unit.  After every unit of study, check either M for mastery, PM for partial mastery, or NM for non mastery.  We set an assessment scale to help dictate what was mastery, partial, and non.

6. When you begin a new unit, check to see if the skills that were not mastered in the previous unit are going to be taught again.  If not, be sure to revisit those skills until they are mastered.

This may seem overwhelming or confusing, but it’s really not so bad once you get started.  Most curriculum will have the skills listed before every unit.  If they don’t, it may be time to find a new curriculum.  Some curriculum will even have the checklists already made out for you.  Whatever way you decide to record your child’s progress, make sure to keep up on it throughout the year.  Then use the checklist to help plan out your lessons.




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