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Records and Reports

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Records and Reports

Resources for creating plans, records, and reports for your whole family

Oh, how I despised homeschool record keeping and monthly reports! Even more, I loathed to give up original material my son had created to some bureaucrat who would not treasure these creations of my child.

My Lazy Idea for Plans and Records

Our first two years, we homeschooled through a program at our local school district. The first of each month I had to turn in academic plans for the following month and a record of what Scott had done the previous month, along with some material proof of what he had done.

As part of Scott’s portfolio, I would take photographs of his activities and works of art, get them developed at “double print specials,” and these were often acceptable. Check with your advisor first. I liked being able to keep the art and a copy of the photos.

Fast forward to 2017. You could post your digital photos to a “Cloud” site or now post and label right in the Excel planner sheet, in the tab labeled “Photos.” On your tracker you could link to the corresponding photo description cell on the Photos worksheet. On Child #1 see the Garden of the Gods Geology field Trip under Science. That links to the trip description field. Consider posting book covers of books your children read, plays and concerts they attend, athletic activities, art projects, and more!

Next, I found that a self-created spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel (Mac X or Windows) could be used to both plan our homeschool days and be edited as we went along to reflect what we really did do. If we needed to, we could bump a plan to the next day by using the “insert” function and pushing the cell one more day to the right. I’ve included a copy of the Homeschool Planning File here for you to download. It should work with most Mac and Windows systems that have a copy of the application “Excel” (included as part of Microsoft Office – Mac or Windows). You may need to adjust the margins to print correctly on your printer. It is suppose to print side headers and Mon-Sun activities per page printout. Use “Print Preview” to figure out which pages you really want to print out!

Free Homeschool Planners / Trackers

Excel Planner
Download the template mentioned in this feature. It is a 209K file named hsplanner.xls that will run on Mac, Unix, Linux, and Windows with any xls-compatible spreadsheet application already installed.

If you unschool, and don’t care for the subject labels, consider editing the subjects to these activity-oriented labels.

High School Credit Planner
Three free credit planner downloadable tools in both .pdf or .xls that will help you best plan out your high school credits.

Where to Buy an Application to Open the Excel File

You may purchase Excel through Amazon through these links:
Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium 1yr Subscription
Office 365 Premium is for households who want Office on up to five PCs and Windows 8 tablets or Macs. One convenient annual subscription for the whole household with automatic upgrades included so you’re always up to date with the latest features and services. Key Card.

The spreadsheet also works with Open Office from SUN that you can use if you are on Mac OS X, Linux, Sun Solaris, or Windows. Available in Asian languages. Homeschoolers and educators can get Apache Open Office for free.

You can also download the excel spreadsheet and then upload it into Google Docs. You can view it as an excel document or have Google Docs transfer it into a Google sheet.

It may also work with the following products, but we haven’t tested it on them. Some are free:

How the Excel Planner Works

For those of you without an xls spreadsheet, such as Excel, I shall explain how this spreadsheet looks and works in the little table below:

 Total Time  Day of Week & Date
Day Count


Whole Family
Event entered here is copied on plans for other children as well.
Time Spent Sum of time spent on family Time entered here copied to others.
Subject 1 Brief description of plans & accomplishments
Time Spent
on Subject 1
Adds up all time across row for full year for each subject. Enter time spent in hours and minutes in this format: 1:30
Repeats pattern of previous two rows
Daily Time
Total time (in column) spent all year on all subjects. Total time spent today computed from times entered in this column.

“Whole Family” rows automatically duplicated from #1 to subsequent sheets for other children. Spreadsheet is set up with 3 worksheets for 3 children. May I suggest that if you have more than 3 children, that you make another copy of this file and have one, say, for the teenagers and one for the elementary aged kids.

My advisor really liked this format. I found it easy to work with because of Excel’s various functions. Date columns widths can be reduced to 0 when no longer needed to be viewed or printed. The printed version will always have the first 2 columns and top 2 rows on it. I’ve given you a couple of days’ samples of activities an unschooler might include. Play around with the time fields for a bit until you understand how they work.

As we unschool, weekends are included and so are holidays. Kids get “credit” for learning all the time! You’ll be pleasantly surprised how the hours add up. Your children may even finish a whole school year of required “work” in far less time than their schooling counterparts.

Updates to the Home School Planner

In 2012 I added the worksheet tab “Photos” so that a record of field trips and projects for art and science could be saved in digital format right here with your plans and records.

In 2006, I’ve fixed it so the start date for Child #1 sets the dates for the other children, too. So if you want to start on a different date than what I have, Just type in your starting date once in Field C1, and the whole family is set to go.

In 2005, I’ve added a worksheet for tips on using the spreadsheet, and another for handy links while planning. Subjects are now linked right into directories of A to Z Home’s Cool to make it easier to find what you need while you are planning.

Homeschool parent Felicia B. Gershberg, MAT, PhD, sent me her version of the Planner set up so that only weekdays appear across the top, as that is what her charter required for reporting. She also preferred that the times be recorded and add up in decimals. You may download Felicia Gershberg’s Excel spreadsheet planning template with only weekdays updated for the homeschool year 2017 – 2018. Time expressed in decimal fractions.

Reproducing the Home School Planner

If you pass this spreadsheet along, please just tell the person you got it from this website or link to this page. Modify it to suit your needs, but do NOT remove the footer. If you have a good improvement, email me a copy! Suggestions welcome. You may not, however, post the whole spreadsheet on your website or redistribute in any way for personal gain. Webmasters, link to this page and NOT to the downloadable file, as I change the file name from time to time.

Resources to Help with Homeschool Recordkeeping

Educationese for Homeschool Reports
Educationese — or Teacherese — is the name sometimes given to the jargon too frequently employed by some of those who train our schoolteachers.

Schools Are from Mars, Homeschoolers Are from Earth
I’m all for schools and homeschoolers figuring out how to peacefully co-exist – indeed, even cooperate! – but sometimes I wonder if we’re even talking about the same thing when we discuss children and learning. Judging by the language we use, I wonder if we’re even on the same planet. By Patrick Farenga.

Unschooling Mom-2-Mom Record Keeping
Homeschoolers spend a lot of time assigning and recording grades. But since unschoolers do not divide their life into subjects, this typical schoolish activity simply doesn’t mesh. till, some states require some sort of record keeping and reporting, so unschoolers need some ideas on how to do this.

Unschooling Record Keeping
Many people wonder how you can unschool and still keep records.  Many people view unschooling and record keeping as being at odds with one another. By Karen Gibson.

Using a Day Planner as a Life Planner
Been there? Done that? Lost a dozen? Using a day planner one of the most essential coping skills that a woman with ADD can develop, but it’s one that you need to practice and develop. By Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D.

More on Record Keeping and Planning

Records and Reports
Goal Setting
Free Planners

Series Navigation

Records and Reports – Part 2 >>

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