Record keeping: Learning the basics – Part 1

Explore what keeping records means and what youth learn and gain from developing record-keeping skills.

A simple definition of record-keeping is recording selected useful information, usually focused for a specific purpose. It is a way to have an organized, written account of a process, personal growth, accomplishments and participation.

By keeping records, we learn to plan and organize our work, evaluate growth, understand financial needs, improve written communication skills, pay attention to details and deadlines, make decisions and set priorities.

As a result of keeping records, youth are able to reflect on yearly work and accomplishments, document skill development, track goal setting and achievement, receive recognition, understand financial management and gain satisfaction and motivation from observing progress and learning.

How do we start?

  1. Determine the purpose of the record
  2. Choose an appropriate method or plan for recording the information.
  3. Select information to include
  4. Enter information for accounting and any explanations
  5. Use the information to make a determination, decision or judgment

An article from the Journal of Extension explains that while youth gain a variety of skills and knowledge from participating in 4-H and other youth organizations, they may not always recognize what they’re learning. Record keeping works to help them “realize more of the value of their involvement in clubs, camps, projects and other educational activities.” This ability – once learned and practiced – will lend itself well in more professional settings as the youth grows and matures.

In the next part of this series of articles, explore how to begin to use record-keeping in 4-H in addition to identifying the tools and resources needed to gain and develop this useful skill.  

To learn more about record-keeping and 4-H, visit your local Michigan State University Extension office. Also check out MSU Extension Educator Katie Vanderkolk’s article, “Keeping 4-H project records develops skills in youth for later success in life,” which explores the success youth experience as they practice this valuable skill in 4-H projects.

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