Unschooling Record Keeping

I am often asked how we can unschool and still keep records. Many people view unschooling and recordkeeping as being at odds with one another. Granted, quantifying your child’s education is not really what most unschoolers want to do.  But, many state homeschool regulations require some type of records.

Creating a System

Since I have a monthly progress report requirement, I created a daily log sheet. These go into a 3-ring notebook — one notebook for each child. The information on these include name of child, grade level, space to fill in the date, and space to fill in the day # of the school year. Each sheet covers one day, with subject areas on both sides. 

The following categories are included, with space to fill in time spent on each subject and a brief (or detailed) description:

Language Arts


Social Sciences

Science and Technology

Art & Music

Physical Education

Religion and Philosophy

Foreign Language

Field Trips

Independent Living Skills

Volunteer Work


You can now view and save sample pages of my log sheets in .pdf format

Page One

Page Two

Tracking Time

I try to keep track of approximate times spent on each subject. With some things it’s easy to figure time — a movie is x number of minutes, for example. Others are a bit more difficult; in those cases I figure an approximate time. And, it goes without saying that not all subjects are covered each day. That’s not how unschooling (or life) works.

With these log sheets preprinted and in a notebook, it’s easy to grab the notebook and write in whatever activity you see occurring. I quickly learned it is important to do this daily. It’s really difficult to remember back two or three weeks what each child did and when they did it!

I keep track of movies, books, audiobooks, workbooks, board games, computer games, online activity, letter writing, discussions, questions and answers, research, field trips, etc. I even include household chores under the Independent Living Skills section. You can be very detailed about these activities or you can note general topics covered. It’s up to you and your needs.

When it’s time to turn in our monthly progress reports, I go through each subject and list the different things done by each child. I divide the subject areas into subtopics – subtopics of Social Sciences could include American History, World History, Civics, Current Events, or Geography. If I see one area not being covered, I’m not worried — these reports are only for my information and to satisfy the church school requirement. I also believe, though, that down the road these reports will make it easier to prepare transcripts or portfolios for college admissions.

Track These Too

The only other thing I do is keep a spreadsheet of books, videos, audiobooks, “educational” TV programs, etc, used by my children. The list includes the date, the book title (or video, etc.), and the author. If you do nothing else, I strongly urge keeping such a list. When you look it over at the end of the school year, you will be amazed at the wide variety of topics your child covered while reading books and watching videos. I know I always am.

Author’s Note:  By the time my children reached high school, this system fell by the wayside. They were pretty much independent learners by then and often I didn’t know what they were working on. Also, I no longer had to submit monthly progress reports.

Copyright March 1999, May 2021

1 thought on “Unschooling Record Keeping”

  1. Nice and simple – which is always the best. I did something similar but just had it all in a spreadsheet. I usually had my computer on during the day, so easy to type in real quick. I would also suggest making it a habit to sit down each day in the evening, and write stuff down. It can be hard to do it when you see it, and easy to forget to do at all. And I also wouldn’t worry when you do forget to write something in. I never included all we did no one would believe it anyway. 😉


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