School has begun and I am already feeling the crush of paperwork bearing down upon me! Am I the only one feeling this way? Ugh! Are you feeling the crush too? How can you document your school year to be able to show me (an Ohio certified assessor) how much your student accomplished without feeling horrible about the lack of organization?
Now is the time to begin so that you are not overwhelmed in the spring by all of the paperwork that has been accumulating. You can organize papers so that all you have to do is contact me to set up your portfolio review. No wading through papers and workbooks, deciding on what to take. I am giving you a list of ideas to help organize and discard papers so that your house is not overrun by math papers, science labs, maps, and workbook pages. Pick and choose from the items listed, but do not do every one of them! 🙂 Hopefully, one of these will work for you as your child finishes their school work.
Create a binder for each subject to put a sample in it. This can be done every Friday, or it can be collected once a month. If you are collecting samples monthly, just pick the same time each month; ideally, the beginning or end.
Use folders to place a work sample of each subject. Using different colors for subjects will help you to have an easy filing system. For instance, a yellow folder for language arts, a red folder for math, etc., that you can quickly drop a sample into the appropriate subject folder. At the end of the year you can grab the folders and put them in a cute school bag to take with you.
Accordion pleated file systems for each of your children keeps everything organized in one convenient location. You can label the tabs with subjects for filing. An assessor does not need to see every scrap of paper and doodle that your scholar has done. Trust yourself and choose paperwork and samples that represent the work being completed.
Hanging folders with labeled tabs of the subjects are an efficient and out-of- sight way to organize paperwork. I have a four drawer filing cabinet that I recently acquired and I wonder how I have lived without it for all of these years!
Binder Clips Gather each month’s samples of work and clip them according to the subject. Place in a folder and label the month or the subject, whatever is best for you.
Systems that I have tried and do not work well in my opinion are:
baskets– everything falls to the bottom and nothing is organized. I just have to go through the heap at a later time!
rectangular plastic containers or filing boxes- the same as mentioned above. I just have more time to keep adding papers to the jumble that is collecting and multiplying. Now, if you actually use the file box and put folders in it, then it is a thing of beauty (sigh).
cloth bags– another collection sight that I never look at until I can’t find something. In fact, the other day I was trying to find some files that I thought were in my filing cabinet and I stumbled upon this bag that was filled to the brim with who-knows- what. I felt that I should look into it as it had been sitting near a bookshelf for several months. I was pleasantly surprised and quite relieved that is was the files for which I was looking! Needless to say, the cloth bag was a terrible filing system.
What, pray tell, do I keep when gathering samples? I kept one page of a concept that had been introduced or mastered. If introduced, I added a paper later that showed progress (or not 😦 ) and then mastery or continued help. I did not always follow through with the concept, but I tried to as much as possible. Allow your child to select samples to showcase too. Many children are interested in what I think of their work and are excited to show me things they have done. It can also help them to put forth their best and take pride in their work.
Throughout the year if my student had a difficult time with a concept, I would pick out that paper and write on a post-it note what was the difficulty. This helped me see progress that is made throughout the year or something I needed to evaluate or ask for help to have my student understand the concept.
If your student is doing schoolwork online, then see if there is a progress report, quiz or test that can be printed off to include in your files. If not, take pictures throughout the year of screenshots of work. You do not necessarily need to print off the pictures, but put them in a file that you back up regularly.
If you are using workbooks and don’t want to tear out papers until the end of the year you can use those cool skinny post-it note flags. You can mark the pages throughout the year that you want to take to your portfolio review appointment. It will take just a few minutes in the spring to remove the pages.
If you are going on field trips throughout the year, take pictures! I love seeing all of the places homeschool families visit. You can send pictures to me prior to your appointment or bring your camera along. One homeschool family makes a yearbook that I enjoy reviewing.
Do you have a project that is too big or a map or timeline you have created that is on the wall? You can snap a photograph of that too or create a video! No need to bring it with you. I understand the amount of time and hard work that has gone into projects.
Please feel free to leave a comment if you have questions. I will be happy to address them.
Have a great week!