Friday, October 10, 2014

Conquering the Homeschool Paperwork Beast

Let's see, the topic of books makes me think of school and school makes me think of papers and with seven kids and 16 years of homeschooling that equals a lot of papers (and workbooks, and art projects, too!).

Fortunately, we have always lived in a part of the country where just about every house has a basement.  Basements = room to store things.  I'm not sure if this has been good or not, but it has allowed me not to think much about how to store all of our schoolwork.

I also live in a state that doesn't require any reporting, but just in case, I've kept just about every paper and workbook these kids have ever produced or written on.

This is how I handle the papers:

1.  At the end of every school year, I compute grades for each student.  After the grades are computed, I take their planning notebook and all of their papers and put them in a bankers box.  I then move on to the next student and do the same, putting all of their stuff in the same bankers box.  Most years I can fit all of the work into one box.  

2. I label the box with the names of the students, the grade they were in and the school year.  

3.  Finally, I put the lid on it, carry it to the basement and go on my way.

4.  Once a student hits high school, they get their own box marked high school and then all of the papers from those years go into that box.

This has worked well for me, that is until this year when my parents kept reminding me that when we moved 5 1/2 years ago, we had stored four huge stacks (we also had a lot of boxes of business and personal papers) of boxes in their basement and the boxes had recently started falling over.  They were nice about it, but about once a month they would remind me.  

Finally this past August, I went over there for a day and started rifling through the boxes.  I knew that all of this was from the early years, so I did a rough going through and tried to pick out pictures or stories that I thought the kids might like to keep and I brought all of those home.  The dad burned in his backyard burn pit.

Another thing I did was take my camera so that if I came across an art project or something that I thought was cute, I took a picture of it.  It's a lot easier to store a picture than it is a 10 year old art project.  If you're short on storage space, this is a great way to remember all those projects and drawings your kids have done.  Keep the project/drawing out for awhile, then take a keepsake picture of it and throw the original away!

Downstairs in our basement is where the remaining years of boxes are.  These are the most recent, so it will be awhile before I purge them, just in case something were to change in our laws or something like that.  Now that three of the kids are in college, I really see no point in keeping their papers so those will probably be the first to go when the time comes.

The homeschooling laws for your state probably determine how you organize your schoolwork storage system, or at least they should.  Since my state isn't very intense about this, it has allowed me to be loosely organized.  If your state has strict requirements about reporting and portfolios and such, you will need a more organized approach to your system.  If you don't have a basement, then you really need to pare things down at the end of every school year and keep only those items that you think you might need for reporting or later purposes.  If you're really short on storage, keep as much on the computer in the form of scans and pictures as you can.

Tackling this beast at the end of every school year is definitely the way to stay on top of things.  If you let it accumulate, it will become overwhelming in no time!

God Bless!

You can go here to see the entire list of posts in this series.