Color-Coded Progress Lists

Updated July 2012: Our color-coded progress lists for the 2012-2013 school year can be accessed here or by clicking that button to the right. I used a new format that I like better in the 2012-2013 version, so if you like the progress lists you see in this post, be sure to check out my newer version. Happy planning! :)


I am a visual person. This school year, it has been helpful to have a quick visual guide that marks our progress through the year’s work. In the past, I have tried to use online tracking systems (like the CM Organizer at Simply Charlotte Mason), but have found that I prefer simple paper-and-pencil checklists. They work for me! And they’re simple, and simple is always always a bonus when it comes to homeschooling. :)

This year, I took each book we are using, broke them each down by chapter, and assembled progress checklists. As we plod through the year, I mark off the lessons we accomplish. This is a very satisfying practice for a Lover Of All Things Checklist, and it helps me feel productive, even on those crazy-running-around-stressed-did-we-even-get-anything-done-around-here weeks. You do know what I’m talking about, don’t you? ;)

The lists are color-coded by trimester.  My goal is to have everything in orange done by Halloween, everything in purple done by Valentine’s Day (that’s when baby girl is due), and everything in green done by the end of the school year (whenever that is- we’ll just keep going till it’s all done). The color-coding helps me see how far we are, at any given time, from reaching our goals.

Anything that’s not color-coded (Snap’s lists, for example) are in black because I’m not concerned with finishing a certain amount of work this year. In Snap’s instance, I just want him to progress a little further at his own pace. However far we get is however far we get.

I don’t have any of our literature selections, living history books, or saint stories on these lists. Instead, I keep track of these on a plain piece of blank notebook paper. I do that because I don’t plan out these selections ahead of time. I choose this reading based on what I can get at the library (and with saint stories, I’m never sure which ones we’ll touch on each year. We have a happy stack of saint books on the shelf, and I just record the individual saint stories as we read them).

This system of recording-as-we-go works best for me, and it allows me to throw in some good spontaneous reading that I stumble upon during the school year.

All of this record-keeping (the progress checklists and the record-as-we-go lists) are tucked into my teaching binder behind a tab labeled Progress. One of my very favorite parts of the week is flipping to that section and checking away all we accomplished. :)

I’m feeling very relaxed this year, because I’m seeing, every week, how much progress we’re making! And we’re making a lot! I think oftentimes, we homeschoolers don’t realize how very much we are getting to, simply because we aren’t very good at documenting it. This simple checklist format keeps me up-to-speed on where we are and where we need to go.

Feel free to nab these lists and tweak them for your own learning materials, if that would be helpful:

Family Work Progress List

Primrose’s Progress List

Tulip’s Progress List

Snapdragon’s Progress List

(And remember, you can see our weekly check-it-off lists here.)


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  1. says

    You are so right. Seeing things as you go makes you actually feel like you’re accomplishing something. I’ve done that with a few of our books, and it really does make all the difference.

  2. says

    Love this. I’m so checklist obsessed that I actually write extra things down *after* I do them just so I can check them off. Scary, I know. lol

  3. says


    Hey, what is “Adventures in America”? That could be just what I’m looking for for Daisy. We’re doing lots of lit, but I’d love a spine of some sort.

    Link please?

    LOVE the checklists – really good idea. Not only do you have a schedule, but you have a record of what was done all in one place. Love that.

    Hope your day is grand :) And thanks for any help! xo

    (and I would have mailed you this rather than post here, but my email seems to be on the blink. alas)

  4. says

    Can you talk more about your method for Catechism? Are the kids memorizing every question? Or just discussing the questions? And if they are memorizing, do you review so that they are building and remembering all of it? My kids are about the ages of your kids and while I think memorizing the Catechism is a worthwhile endeavor, it seemed like a lot after 5 or 6 chapters to continue to have all of those questions committed to memory. Thoughts?

  5. says

    Sarah, I followed you over here from the lovely comment you left on my blog. I feel like I’ve found a kindred spirit! I’ve never been great at consisten recordkeeping, but I do thrill to the promise of a fresh, brightly colored checklist. Love your lists!
    I clicked over and looked at your weekly checklists … and have a question. Every time I block my day out and try to follow a 30-minute-block schedule with the children, it falls apart very quickly. Do you find you actually adhere to that schedule pretty closely, or is it simply a jumping-off point? :-)
    I see we’re using some of the same material — Teaching Textbooks, AAS, WWE and the like. Haven’t heard of Adventures in America, though, so I’d better go look it up.
    Thanks for saying hello!

  6. says

    Penny- Adventures in America is the Elememental History program ( I wouldn’t really recommend it. The only part of the program I love is the geography (state-by-state). The history part is okay, but I’m fleshing it out with more living books, History Pockets, and Draw Write Now activities. We are loving history this year, but I’m only using Adventures in America as a week-by-week spine of what topics to cover next (and then off to the library we go!).

    Marybeth- I’d be happy to talk about how we do catechism! It’s very informal here. There is some memorization to it, but only what comes naturally. I talk about it a littl emore in an upcoming post. :)

    Haylie- Yes. Last week in October, please. :)

  7. Lora Schmitz says

    LOVE these list ideas! I use Living Books Curriculum and although they do a great job, I always feel the need to break it down further. They do a day by day (but with 20 subjects that gets difficult to see at a glance). Then they do an overview (which isn’t enough detail) so I find myself writing out each week on my own. This idea is better yet. Love the check list!! Thanks!

  8. says

    I love this. I love checklists to the point that my blog is called Life by List. And Penny, I too write down things after I do them to cross them off!

  9. says

    Linked from Simply Homeschool and so glad I clicked!!!

    This is downright awesome :D I’ve been floundering with this and here you are blessing us with this great tool. Blessings to you mama!!!

  10. says

    What a great simple idea. I spend a lot of time *thinking* about docummentation (and not so much doing it ;) Thanks!

    Amber. x