As unschoolers in NJ we are lucky to be limited by very little when it comes to homeschooling. We do not have to report with portfolios or make our young people take standardized testing. Not having to “prove” that we are learning certain things at certain times, we have a lot of freedom to let them really follow their passions with learning, delve deeply into things they find interesting, and spend as much time on any given subject that they like.
My son is 3 1/2 and I’ve already noticed how many ideas he comes up with for exploring on his own. Some days it’s hard to keep up! While I don’t need to keep a portfolio of our work for reporting purposes (and certainly don’t need to at this young of an age) I find that I still love journaling these moments of our day.
Some of the benefits of journaling our unschooling journey:
- memories! This is one of the biggest ones for me. It will be so nice to look back and see all of the ways he was growing and exploring from such a young age-for my husband I, as well as for my son.
- It does act as a portfolio should you ever find the need for one. While I don’t need one now, I am sure that at some point my son will need some type of documentation for something and it would be nice to have this already at hand then to have to go back through the years and think of everything we have done.
- Having a journal of passions, interests, and projects helps to inspire and keep on track with works in progress, as well as provides a jumping off point for future projects. In Lori Pickard’s book Project-Based Homeschooling, Mentoring the Self-Directed Learner, I found her idea of hanging photos of recent trips and pictures of your young person working on their projects hanging around their workspace to be very helpful. O often looks at pics of things he was doing and is re-inspired to finish something of gets a shoot-off idea from that.
- It’s a great way to keep track of useful resources that you find and use along the way.
Now, onto how to keep all this stuff in order. I definitely keep paper artwork (some of course, I literally do not have the space for all of it) and other memorabilia from trips, holidays, ext. As far as daily journaling, to be honest, by the time nighttime rolls around and I would have a chance to sit and handwrite in a journal (or type for that matter) I am so tired and have probably forgotten half of what we have done.
The solution? Evernote. Inspired by this post over at City Kids Homeschooling, I decided to give Evernote a try for journaling and documenting our days.
Here’s how I use it:
- Create a notebook
- for each new activity I want to document I create a note within that notebook
- We keep it really simple right now. I have one notebook for all of O’s stuff, and notes from all activities we want to record go in there. Later, I may separate into different notebooks as needed.
- In each note I can quickly add in a picture, a few notes, any links we were using, ect.
Finally, one of the best things about using Evernote for recording is that it really doesn’t interrupt anything we are doing. in just a few quick minutes (or minute) I can jot this stuff down and be on with it. Later, when I want to organize (which I may do quarterly, haven’t decided yet) I can sync to my computer and organize away when I have time.
Until next time!