When I taught in traditional school years ago, I always felt as if I were drowning in paperwork. And I always felt a little sorry for the parents, knowing how many papers I sent home with the kids- worksheets, crafts, assignment sheets, and informational notes.
As we headed into homeschooling, I realized that, if possible, I was even more overwhelmed with paperwork. I had legal documents, worksheets, forms, notebooking pages, lesson planning pages, and crafts and artwork- all times four. I realized pretty soon that I was going to have to find a way to manage all this paper before it took over the house. I’ve developed a few strategies over the years that have made managing all this paper a little easier.
Try these tips to manage all of your homeschool paperwork.
Go digital when possible.
I know that some people just love pen and paper planning systems. But I learned early on that if I could keep records digitally I could drastically cut down on the amount of paper we generated. Now I keep all lesson plans, grade records, attendance records, and high school transcripts digitally. I also keep records of each year’s work digitally. My older kids even submit their work to me digitally. I grade it directly from the digital file, and it never gets printed out to create more paperwork.
Use notebooks to organize and store kids’ paperwork.
Of course some things just can’t be kept digitally. There are worksheets to be printed, along with notebooking pages, copywork, unit study pages, and tests or other assessment tools. Once upon a time I tried keeping all of these in separate files for each child each year. But we soon moved to a notebook system.
Each year I purchase a large binder for each child- the 1 1/2- 2 inch size. They have categories in the binder for every subject and for tests. As the year progresses and they collect papers, the papers go in their own binders to be stored. This works especially well if you use unit studies and notebooking in your homeschool. But you can make it work with any homeschool method or curricula, as I’ve found since my older students moved away from a unit study style curricula and into more textbook/workbook methods.
File away each year in labeled boxes.
At the end of each school year, I take each child’s binder, along with any consumable workbooks for the year and pack it up in a box, label it with the date, and store it. I don’t usually print out record keeping pages since I keep those stored digitally. But if the kids have printed assignment sheets or other paperwork, I’ll include that in the year’s box as well.
Our homeschool has never been investigated legally, and I don’t personally know anyone who has. But I always want to be prepared. Having these labeled boxes that can be easily referenced, as well as digital records that are in orderly files on Google Drive, means that if needed, I could show our homeschool records to anyone.
Don’t keep it all.
I don’t tend to be a “keeper.” I’m more of a “purger.” But, when it comes to kids’ schoolwork and crafts it’s a little harder for me to get rid of papers. I’ve learned, however, that you just can’t keep it all. If I kept every piece of schoolwork and every craft or project each child did every school year, we would soon need a separate house just to store it all.
I do keep a sampling of schoolwork and crafts. I keep all of the paperwork that kids have stored in their binders all year, along with a few art projects. When it comes to arts and crafts, I try to display projects for a week or so after we complete them and then subtly throw them away as we replace them with new projects. Sometimes a child will have a particular project that she wants to keep with her own things on her school shelf or in her room. But I’ve definitely given up trying to keep them all.
All the homeschool paperwork can be a challenge. But it can be managed. Try these things to keep your homeschool papers from over-running your house.
What’s your best homeschool paperwork tip? Let us know in the comments!