In our homeschool, it’s very near the end of the school year, so we are trying to wrap things up. That means final grades and report cards, and then putting away the books. It also means that we’re thinking about record-keeping logistics and decisions about what to keep and where to put it. For those of us that struggle to stay organized and control the amount of stuff we have, those are tough decisions.
Even though I do quite a bit of the nitty-gritty of lesson planning using paper and pencil, I prefer to keep homeschool records digitally. I keep my lesson plans, assignment lists, grades, and report cards on Homeschool Tracker Online. Everything is stored on the cloud, which is so handy because I can access it from anywhere. I download the reports and files I do need to print, but I can re-create them at any time. Plus I don’t need to worry about the report cards or transcripts getting lost in the shuffle of my cluttered desk. The records that I keep on paper are very limited – copies of two or three forms that I turn in to my umbrella group at the beginning of each school year, the mid-term report card, and the final report card. In most cases, those are the only records that are essential to keep anyway.
When kids are little, it’s tempting to keep every timeline, story, and piece of artwork that they worked on; but eventually you realize it’s impractical to keep everything. We have quite a bit of room for storage, but we have always tried to store way too much, so completed schoolwork is an area where I’ve become fairly ruthless. I started bundling the schoolwork that I wanted to keep in a file folder at the end of the school year – one folder per student per year – and kept only the very best examples of their work. After awhile, I began to realize that I was still keeping too much, so I became even pickier when sorting through projects at the end of the year. We keep only what fits comfortably in one folder. The truth is, very little of that completed schoolwork will ever be needed or referred to again, so we probably don’t need to keep any of it.
The only exception is artwork. From middle school on, I have allowed my daughter to choose the artwork she wanted to keep, and it’s stored in art portfolios. Many parents take photos of completed art projects and keep a digital record of those masterpieces.
My best advice (and I wish I’d always followed it myself) is to NOT keep curriculum after you’ve finished with it. Not unless you have a very specific plan for using it for your next student within the next year or two at most. Too often I’ve kept something because I might be able to use it for another student, and then never did. I wish I’d sold or given away those things as soon as we were done with them instead of holding onto them and essentially wasting them in the process. I have kept non-consumable curriculum knowing that I’d use it with another student, and when, and that worked out better. If you’re not confident it’s a good fit for your next student, or if there’s a large age gap between your students, you’re probably wise to pass it along to someone else. Give it away, loan it out, or sell it at a deep discount to bless other homeschool families, rather than allow it to take up space and probably be forgotten anyway.