Why You Should Consider Keeping an Evernote Homeschool Records Book Even If You Don’t Have To

The other day,  our Authorised Person (AP) from the education department came to see us. It was time for our biennial homeschool registration visit.

“We’re still using Evernote to record our homeschooling,” I said as the AP sat down in front of my computer. She scrolled through a few notes before catching sight of a link to one of Sophie’s videos. A click later, and she was watching and listening to my fifteen-year-old daughter talk about motivation and exercise.

“Sophie makes lots of videos,” I said as I navigated my way to Imogen’s Youtube channel. “She films all her sister’s music videos… and she’s sung in several of them too.” The AP was eager to see a video, and I could tell she thoroughly enjoyed watching the girls sing Wild Child.

Then the AP scrolled through a couple of notebooks chosen at random. It was evident there were lots of notes for each Key Learning Area.

I showed the AP how I’d clipped the school syllabus into a notebook for reference purposes.

I talked briefly about the girls’ learning: how they start with life. A lot of relevant learning experiences arrive without us looking for them. Some only need to be noticed and taken advantage of.

I mentioned the girls’ interests. I pointed the AP in the direction of some notes about my daughters’ writing passion. She saw photos of them practising the piano and singing. (We’d already talked about photography and videography.) 

I opened up my strewing notebook which I explained was our ‘plan’ for the coming year. (Many of the notes cover topics in the school syllabus in an interesting way.) I talked about how we use the notebook to browse for learning ideas.

All that took only a few minutes. The AP was satisfied. She didn’t need to look at the thousands of notes I’d made over the last couple of years. She knows my girls are getting a fantastic education.

I think about the thousands of notes in my Evernote notebooks.  Was it worth taking the time to record them all? Hardly anything was looked at. Of course, my notebooks ensured our application for reregistration as homeschoolers was successful. But did I need to keep such comprehensive records? Well, that point is debatable but I’m glad I did. Why? Because our Evernote notebooks are more than a homeschool record. They are our family journal.

As I scroll back through the notebooks of the past two years,  it’s easy to see that I’ve captured many, many memories that will be treasured forever.

There are photos of all our music video shoots:

And, as I mentioned earlier, links to all the finished videos.

Gemma-Rose scanned in all her drawings:

We clipped in images of our favourite paintings:

There are writings such as extracts from my girls’ novels, some of their emails, and all their blog posts:

We have a record of all the fascinating things that captured our interest like these gardens hanging from the ‘best tall building in the world’:

We have included all the books, movies, mini-series, Youtube videos, and music we’ve enjoyed together:

There are also records of

  • All the skills my girls have gained
  • Picnics and walks we went on
  • Museums and other places we visited
  • Photos of lots of people, places and things
  • Conversations we enjoyed together
  • The girls’ running and other athletic achievements
  • Get-togethers with other families
  • And many other moments of our lives from the past two years

So my Evernote notebooks fulfil two functions: I use them for our homeschool record keeping. But more importantly, they contain treasured memories of our family’s life. (I guess it’s not surprising our records are also our family journal. Unschooling is life!)

You might not have to keep homeschooling records.  But how about keeping a few anyway? You could end up with a family journal bursting with wonderful memories.

PS: We live in the state of NSW, Australia.

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  1. Reply

    Your records don’t look like records at all – not boring or dull, full of colour, smiles and activity. I admit to be lazy about record keeping but with the new regulations likely to come in here next year, I’m starting to take it seriously. I’ve signed up to Keptme and even bought a device to start recording images in an easier way. It will give me piece of mind to know that if I’m randomly reviewed at any time, I will be prepared.

    1. Reply


      Oh yes, records don’t have to look dull and boring! I’m sorry to hear about the probable change in your state’s homeschool regulations. Maybe record keeping can be a positive experience if you find an easy and effective way to keep track of all your kids’ learning experiences. I had a quick look at Keptme. I’d never heard of it before. I hope it works for you!

    • Anna Vaschina
    • March 16, 2017

    Sue, you mentioned clipping the school syllabus into a notebook. Was that relevant information from the Australian Curriculum website?

    1. Reply


      I clipped information from the NSW syllabuses for the Australian Curriculum into my notebook:


      I imagine every state has its own version of this website.

      There is info for each of the Key Learning Areas. The syllabus for each subject could be clipped into Evernote. Or maybe just the link to the website. I showed the AP how easy it is for me to access the documents when I want to check an outcome and match it up with what my girls are doing, or browse a subject’s content for some strewing ideas. Having the links and clipped pages showed her that I’m aware we are supposed to base our children’s learning on the syllabus (even if we don’t do it in the expected way).

  2. Reply

    Hi Sue!
    Taking more notes is a great idea for us. Thank you! We’re running into questions from people along the lines of “Yes, but what do you do?” I’ve internalized my current ‘curriculum plan’–which is to have the kids be autonomous, happy, independent, gregarious explorers–so well that I forget how to describe it even though all our activities are supportive of it. It would also be nice to have documentation of what works, and how we all arrived there. Again, as a family unit we know, but when I have to describe it to others reminders would be nice. Thanks for the ideas!

    1. Reply


      Your comment reminds me of those times when I’m asked how do I know my kids are progressing? How do I know what their needs are? I just know! I’m their mother and my plan and progress reports, just like yours, are internal. I don’t really need to write them down. But yes, other people want to see evidence of what we’re doing . I used to get frustrated about having to keep records until I saw a positive side to doing this. It is “nice to have documentation of what works, and how we all arrived there”! I imagine family and friends would enjoy seeing your homeschool notes or family journal. And if anyone is unsure about unschooling, maybe the notebooks will reassure them that your kids are indeed learning. They’re doing amazing things!

    • Anna
    • March 17, 2017

    Hamilton, I love your ‘curriculum plan’!

    1. Reply

      So do I!

    • San
    • March 18, 2017

    What a beautiful record of a life lived well. You have definitely got me thinking about using Evernote in this way, I will have to watch your video on how you set it up though 😁❤️

    1. Reply


      Thank you for your encouraging words! Maybe you’d enjoy putting together an Evernote notebook. I’m thinking of writing some blog posts about keeping family and homeschool journals. Maybe I can share some ideas of what to include and how to make things look attractive. And perhaps everyone can share their ideas with me. I’m really happy with my Evernote notebooks. They’ve captured lots of memories. However, I’m wondering if I can make them even more attractive and valuable. I shall enjoy experimenting as I work out what is possible!

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