All moms regardless of where our kids learn we want to keep samples of their school work. As a homeschooler there are a few extra considerations and extra piles of work to think about. We all want to remember how they wrote as a kindergartner or that special art project they did with the enrichment club. As a homeschooler we also have every worksheet they ever did, every drawing they ever made and every workbook, text book and scratch paper they wrote on. It can be overwhelming to contain all the papers as they year progresses. And even more overwhelming to decide what to keep for official records depending on your states regulation. Having been at this whole homeschool thing for over five years and lived in two different states with different regulations, I’m here to share a few of the ways we stay organized.
#1 Know Your state Regulations
Each state has its own requirements on record keeping and reporting. You can find out what your requirements are by checking with your local homeschool groups or searching online. When we lived in Florida where each homeschool family was required to register with either the local district or a private school covering. We chose to register with the district. We also had to choose one of several ways to report growth for each student each year. The way we chose was to create a portfolio of each child’s work and review it with a certified teacher who would sign off as making adequate progress. Now we live in Illinois where we are required to teach 6 basic subjects. We have no reporting or registration requirements. I choose to continue to keep records for myself and for the kids since we have a system already in place that works for us.
#2 Have a plan for daily work
Homeschooling uses a lot of paper! It easily gets out of control if I let it. I have discovered the easiest way to contain it is to use “In and Out” boxes. Each child has one assigned to them and each time they complete a worksheet after I check it. It is turned into their box for their records. This keeps me from having to separate each child’s papers from their siblings papers later. I do not put it in the box, it is the child’s job to put the papers worth keeping in the box. Scratch paper goes to the recycle box.
This year we also started using binders. Every subject for each child is kept in a single large binder so there aren’t as many loose pages around the room. At the end of each 6 week term I reset their binders with the new materials and take out the completed work. I still use the IN and Out boxes to store the completed work until I sort for their long term records.
#3 Sort it all at the end of the year
All year we fill their In and out boxes. And at the end of the year I take all the papers and sort them by subject. I keep the best parts and recycling the rest. I keep each math chapter test but toss the daily worksheets, I keep finished writing papers but toss the rough drafts and outlines. Usually a few fun drawing or creative non-school papers will get added as well. I want it to be a snapshot of them.
By sorting only once or twice a year its easier to be objective and keep a sampling of the best parts of the year. I only keep what will fit in a 1-2 inch binder for the year. As they are getting older I have started adding a table of contents or snapshot of the year’s studies in their binder. We can easily see what was covered in their work or when they read a specific novel.
#4 The Non-Book Learning
To record the non-book learning, I make a photo book of each year. My focus of the book is what field trips and other activities that don’t fit neatly in a binder. This also means I have to think about taking pictures of that learning all year which comes easy to me. I also celebrate each workbook or level of a program with a picture. Its a great reminder to look back and see what each child used in a specific year. We also include things like what our school space looks like and learning we do at Co-op. Pictures of large art projects can also be included in the photo records as well.
Making the photo book is a summer project for me. I watch for a discount code from Shutterfly to save on printing. We are wrapping up our 6th year of homeschooling and will make our 5th photo book soon. I find them all over the house as the kids enjoy looking at themselves. They remember all the fun activities we have done over the years. Use THIS LINK to make your own free Memory book with Shutterfly!