Every two years, an Authorised Person (AP) from the Education Department comes to visit our family as part of our homeschool registration process. We have to show her what we’ve been doing. We have to prove to her that my girls are fulfilling the necessary registration requirements.
Last time our AP came to see us, I presented her with our Evernote records. I opened my computer and set it down on the table in front of her. She scrolled through all my notebooks, and she was impressed!
Yes, Evernote is a perfect way to showcase all the unschool learning that happens each day.
So what is the best way to arrange our Evernote notebooks? Well, there are many options. Maybe you already have your own way of doing things. That’s quite okay. But just in case you’re looking for some ideas on how to turn impressive unschooling into impressive notes, I’m going to share a few things I’ve picked up along the way, including a couple of new features that have been recently added to Evernote.
Create and Arrange Notebooks to Match Requirements
My children are required to do ‘school work’ for 4 terms each year, the same as school kids. Each term consists of 10 weeks. So for each term, I have created 10 notebooks and stacked them together. I have added the date to each week so that they correspond with the weeks of the official school year. When my AP looks at my notebooks, she can instantly see that I have records for the required number of weeks.
Here’s a post explaining how I set up my notebooks: Evernote Homeschool Records: How Many Notebooks Do We Need?
Of course, unschooling isn’t like school. Learning doesn’t just happen Monday to Friday during term time. Learning also happens on weekends and during school holidays. Even on official ‘school days’, kids don’t learn in an even way. Some days are quieter than others. I don’t think it matters when learning occurs (for registration purposes), as long as we record it. So that’s why I shuffle my notes. I might make notes about things that happen during the holidays and then add them to the first week of the next term. Get ahead with my record keeping! Or I might add weekend notes to a lean-looking week’s notes to fatten up the file.
Title Each Note with the Required Subject
My note titles are rather boring: English, Maths, History… I add as many of these titles to each note as I can. I thought about composing more exciting sounding titles but decided that I should use the titles that my AP is looking for. She wants evidence that my girls are learning the Key Learning Area (KLA) ‘school subjects’. When she sees lots of notes labelled ‘maths’, for example, it’s obvious we are covering that topic.
Add Coloured Tags
Did you know you can colour code Evernote tags? I only found this out a few days ago. There is a limited amount of colours available, but there were enough for me to colour code the Key Learning Area tags: Science, English, Maths etc
Coloured tags make the notebooks look attractive, They also make it easy to find particular notes. Notes that are missing their tags are easily spotted, and I can go back and add the appropriate tags.
Colour coding KLA tags is only one way of using this new feature. You could assign a colour to each child’s notes. Then it would be easy to see which notes belong to which child. I bet there are other ways that coloured tags could be used to make our notebooks look even more impressive.
Add Coloured Notebook Titles.
The title names of our notebooks can also be colour coded. We could have a different colour for each term. Or perhaps planning notebooks and reference notebooks could have different colours. Or how about using different colours for our unschooling notebooks and our personal ones?
Here’s a video about coloured tags and titles (and other new Evernote features):
Add Photos to Notes
You might already add photos to your notes. But did you know you can now rotate them and change their size within a note? We no longer have to import photos at the ‘right’ size. Photos can be adjusted quickly and easily to our preferred size once they have been imported to Evernote.
Here’s an article which explains How to Rotate and Resize Images Within a Note.
Of course, we can’t really turn the wonder of unschooling into any kind of homeschool record. It’s not something that can be reduced to notes. However, we can capture the vast number and different types of learning experiences our children encounter each day of their lives. And that can look impressive to those people who decide whether we are fulfilling our homeschool registration requirements or not.
If you’d like to hear the story of how impressed our AP was when she last came to visit us, you could listen to podcast ep 27: The Tricky Business of Registering Unschoolers as Homeschoolers.
If you have any other ideas about how to make our Evernote records look good, please share!