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School children end up with a lot of completed schoolwork – whether they are doing the work at the kitchen table or bringing it home, it all needs to be dealt with and organized. How do you decide what to keep and what to toss? Where do you keep it? It can seem overwhelming! I have a simple strategy that takes less than an hour each year! It is truly an effortless way to organize homeschool paperwork.
Effortless Way to Organize Homeschool Paperwork
How to Organize Homeschool Paperwork – Step 1
Decide what you want to keep
The first step is deciding what you want to keep. Why you are keeping paperwork in the first place?
I keep school paperwork for two main reasons:
- To look back on years later with good memories. I can’t wait to pull out preschool papers to show my kids when their own kids are creating preschool artwork.
- To have proof of progress if my homeschooling is ever questioned by the state or school district. I don’t anticipate any problems, but I would much rather have these work samples in case any legal problems arise.
Some states require homeschoolers to submit portfolios at the end of the academic year. If your state requires this type of assessment, you will want to keep work samples all year.
How to Organize Homeschool Paperwork – Step 2
Choose a location
Take a few minutes to set up a file system before the school year. Milk crates are fantastic for storing completed work samples. You will need one crate per student, but it will last for years. I have been using Hannah’s crate for 8 years and there is still plenty of room. Add a pack of hanging file folders and label them, one per grade. That is it! You are ready to start organizing!
One advantage of using a milk crate for file storage is that they are easy to stash out of way. In years past I hid the crates under my desk. They were completely out of sight, but were still easily accessible. In another home I stacked the crates in a corner of our home office. Now I am storing the crates on a shelf in a closet. (Can you tell we move around a lot?)
How to Organize Homeschool Paperwork – Step 3
Sort paperwork frequently
Organizing paperwork at the end of each day
After school is done for the day, I put all completed schoolwork into a regular file folder labeled with the child’s name. Everything goes in here – tests, reports, handwriting, etc. Everything. I add to this folder all week long. It keeps our work surfaces clean and ensures nothing will be lost. This takes only seconds each day. You could even have your kids do this as a final step to their school day.
Organizing paperwork at the end of the week
Now is the time to go through those file folders. Recycle anything that is of very little significance. This will vary by family, but I usually toss copy work, handwriting, and generic artwork (coloring pages, etc.).
Transfer the remaining papers to the appropriate year file folder in the milk crate. You will do this every week. It takes just a few minutes to sort and stash the papers.
Organizing paperwork at the end of the year
Once the last lesson is taught, it is time to go through the hanging file folder in the milk crate. I recycle spelling tests, word searches, and anything else that isn’t a great indicator of progress. I keep projects (or photos of projects), writing samples, and math tests. If in doubt, keep it. You can always change your mind and recycle something later.
This final step isn’t overwhelming because you have sorted the papers once before even adding them to the milk crate. Honestly, the longest part of this step is that we get caught up remembering fun projects that we forgot about.
How do you organize homeschool paperwork?