In the state where we live, we don't have to show our homeschooling records to anyone. Still, I decided to start keeping records of what we do once the kids hit compulsory school age. The first year, I only kept records for E, which I summarized in the post E's First Official Not School Year. I mostly only wrote down the things that would be considered "academic" or "educational" by school standards. Last year, I recorded these things for both E and L. I started to write a similar post, but it was so time consuming I didn't finish. That's all time I could be spending with my kids instead!
At first, I wanted this record keeping to serve as a Homeschooling Record for legal purposes if ever needed and also as memories. After doing it for two years though, I expanded the purpose of doing it. I wanted it to be a legal record, memories, reminders, and encouragement. Also, because D is now in another city for work most of the time, this is a record of memories for him since he's missing a lot, (even though we talk every day).
I also noticed that because I was mostly writing down the things that a school would consider academic or educational, I began to have the tendency to put more importance on those things than on other activities. I tried very hard not to let this affect the way I related to the kids, the things I suggested that we do or the things I helped them do, but it was a thing in the back of my mind all the time. I didn't like that.
So this year, I'm doing things a bit differently. This is my system:
I have a spiral bound notebook that I usually keep in the kitchen (up high enough that a certain 3 year old doesn't swipe it. Low enough that I see it when I pop into the kitchen throughout the day).
-I write down things that all the kids do, school age or not.
-I write down all types of things without trying to put them in school categories or "educationese." I can always comb through and do that later if this were ever actually needed as a legal school record. It probably won't be however, and writing down all sorts of things helps keep myself in the mindset that we are always learning, not only when it can be qualified and quantified in schoolish ways.
-I'm not putting dates, though I might go back and put a note of each month and separate it by months from now on, just to make it easier to find things.
-I abbreviate and I'm concise, usually just putting just enough to jog my memory, not long paragraphs or stories. I make a note if I've put a longer story on my blog or a message board or facebook.
- There are some things that they do daily that I don't write down every day. I make a note in the margins like, "Daily- play with neighborhood kids, ride bikes/scooters/ripstick," or "Daily- help with baby A without being asked- like to dress her, change her diaper, carry her, bathe her, play with her."
Even if you don't need to keep records for your state, this is a great help for deschooling. Everything I write down makes me even more aware of all the things I'm not writing down. Writing down "played Littlest Pet Shop" doesn't do any justice to 2 hours spent cooperating with each other, organizing and grouping items, massive amounts of imagination used for pretending, learning from each other, relating their current pretend game to other concepts and incorporating those ideas, and on and on. I can't possibly record it all or quantify it all or even be aware of everything going on in their heads that I can't see.
I highly recommend doing it for a month or a week or even a day and seeing just how much learning you can observe when you're paying attention. At the end of a day, you might think back and not be able to remember much that was particularly exciting, but when you write it down, it's suddenly much more obvious that learning was happening all the time.