Everyone homeschools differently. I have found it very helpful to create a checklist for each of my kids to use throughout the school year. This motivates them see the personal responsibility they have to do their work. It also takes some of the pressure off of the parent of feeling that they need to direct their kids all day long. Here are some suggestions for how to make a workable homeschool checklist.
Video: How to Make a Workable Homeschool Checklist
Benefits of a Homeschool Checklist
- Visual display of what the child needs to complete.
- Encourages kids to take ownership of their work. The burden of the work shifts from what mom is going to teach today to what they need to do to complete their work. They may also want to be more involved in planning their work by asking if they can do certain subjects on certain days or times.
- A checklist motivates kids. They may want to work ahead when they see how much to do.
- A checklist is a nice addition to a homeschool portfolio. When you put a homeschool checklist in your child’s portfolio, it gives good insight into what your child accomplished on a daily basis.
A Homeschool Checklist Should Be Workable
For a checklist to work for you and your child, it must be functional. This means that…
- Your child should use it every day. If it’s not being used, why not? Is the work load too heavy?
- They should have a place to put it. Find a good spot for your child to keep their checklist. Help them get in the habit of putting it away every day so they always know where to find it.
- You should check their checklist and work each day. This will motivate them to keep using it. I have chocolate treats in a jar that I give to our kids when they bring their finished checklist to me with everything completed to my satisfaction. This has been VERY motivating to them.
Pretty or Practical?
As much as embellishment and beautiful art work really looks appealing, if designing a pretty checklist keeps you from finishing it, it just isn’t practical. For many years, this was the case for me. Putting the checklist together seemed like a big enough task for me. If I would have put pressure on myself to make it look a certain way, I would have been discouraged from finishing it.
On the other hand, if making their checklist beautiful motivates you to get started on it, then that would be a good reason to take the time on the design!
For many years, I have used a simple black and white checklist that I created on Microsoft Word. Since I usually have 5 or 6 checklists I have to make, this was as much as I could realistically do. I would have loved to have something more colorful and creative, but taking the additional time to plan that out would have discouraged me. Our black and white plain checklist has worked great for many years.
For the first time this year, I experimented with Google Sheets and made colorful checklists. Since making yearly checklists has become routine for me, I needed to mix it up. As I began creating the checklist, I realized the design was motivating me to get it done. When the kids saw their beautiful checklists, a few of them said, “I love it! I am excited to start school!” That alone made it worth the extra work!
I share both of these perspectives to say this. Be mindful of what will help you start AND finish making a checklist that is workable for your child. It does NOT have to be a piece of art to function well for your homeschool.
Homeschool Checklist for Young Children
One type of checklist that has been perfect for young kids (K-2) is one I found on Sarah Mackenzie’s Read Aloud Revival website. She uses spiral notebooks and colored gel pens to write out 4-6 assignments for the child to do every day. It is colorful and simple. I like writing little notes or pictures at the bottom of mine and sometimes, the child will write back to me. It’s our fun little informal note-writing system.
I used this for several years with my youngest school kids. I still use it for the ones who are starting out. They like the anticipation of seeing what new things are on their checklist every day.
As our kids grew, it became tedious to write out a new checklist daily, so we swapped it out for a more permanent version that we still use today.
Checklist for Older Children
Although I like the spiral notebook idea for kids, it realistically is too much work for me to do for each of our kids. Our older kids work well with a checklist that I print out for them.
I used to print out a new checklist every week with specific assignments, but I found that over time even that was hard for me to keep up with.
What has worked for several years for us is to print out one checklist for the entire year. I put it in a transparent slipcover and clip it onto that child’s clipboard. Each child has their own clipboard which includes their checklist and booklist. (On their booklist sheet, they write down the list of books they read throughout the year.)
When they complete a subject on their checklist, they can check it off with a dry erase marker and then clear the sheet at the end of the week.
With spiral notebooks and weekly checklists, you can write out specific assignments. (For example, Math Lesson 32, problems 1-20.) You can’t be that specific with one yearly checklist, BUT I have taught the kids and they have learned how much I generally expect them to complete for each subject, so this has not been a problem for us.
Be Flexible With Your Homeschool Checklist
Although I print out one checklist for the school year, it usually has to be tweaked and reprinted two or three times. Inevitably, subjects need to be switched around. Kids grow out of a certain activity. Interests and needs change. You really have to start using your checklist to see how well it works.
What should be on a homeschool checklist?
- Independent work. The purpose of a homeschool checklist is to give your child a list of work that they can do on their own. You should have 6-8 assignments on their checklist for them to accomplish every day.
- Less is more! It’s so easy to make the mistake of trying to accomplish too much. Doing too much will only frustrate both you and your child. First and foremost, Reading, Writing, and Math should be subjects you put in every day. The other content areas can be looped or put on the checklist however you prefer.
- Do the most difficult subjects first. You want them to do the hardest subjects when they are fresh and the least distracted. For our kids, this subject is math. The kids do Math at the beginning of the day because I want them to be the most focused on the subject they need the most help with. What is it that your child struggles with? Do that work at the beginning of your day.
- Alternate subjects. Since our kids have a couple of subjects that require mostly reading, I alternate their reading work with other hands on work like writing, math, or work on the computer. This helps to break things up for them. The order might fluctuate something like this: Math, read a History assignment, Writing work, Literature reading, piano practice, etc.
- Optional Since their independent work is probably not all you do in a school day, you can also include the other subjects you do together, but you don’t have to. We do Morning Time and Afternoon Read Aloud together. In the past I have sometimes put these on our kids’ checklists in a separate section as a visual reminder of all the work we do, but this is not necessary. Remember that the purpose of the checklist is for them to see what THEY are responsible for doing. If including other things on the checklist confuses them, leave it out.
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I would love to know your thoughts! Please take a moment to share how this has helped you or what suggestions you would give for making a workable homeschool checklist!
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Hi, I’m Sheri! I am a Christian saved by grace, married to my high school sweetheart, and a thankful mom to ten incredible kids. I’m a former public school teacher who never thought I would someday be a homeschool mom! Drawing on 13+ years of homeschooling experience, follow along to find help for getting started, tried and true homeschooling advice, life skills learning, simple Morning Time ideas, and interviews with everyday homeschool moms just like you!