As a new-ish home educator, I’m always curious about the day-to-day workings of other homeschooling families. Everything from methods to curriculum (or lack thereof) to working with different ages . . . even the mundane aspects fascinate me. So today I thought I’d share how we organize our homeschooling binder.
I should start by saying that while I love my iCal and Evernote, and I am a quasi-neurotic list-maker, I am not super organized when it comes to our home school. We mostly do child-led learning right now, as our oldest is only six, and up until last week we lived overseas& and weren’t following any particular state guidelines. Still, I knew I should get in the habit of having a central go-to place for notes, ideas, worksheets, and completed projects, and having one binder to keep it all together makes me feel more on top of things. Also, the state we just moved to requires (among other things) a portfolio be kept, so I want to get into the habit from the beginning.
Following is what I keep in our homeschool binder. Right now I only have a binder for E (age 6), although J (age 4) does enjoy “participating” in school as well. (And, in all honesty, what I intended to keep in our binder when we began does not always look like what is actually in our binder at any given time. But this is my ideal starting point.)
1. Current printouts. E is a worksheet kind of gal. She likes to have a piece of paper in front of her when we’re talking about something. She enjoys when I come up with a theme (e.g., country of the week) and then print out corresponding materials (e.g., outline map, flag, fun facts, common animals, foods). This tab includes what interests E right now, and what we are “working on” for the week.
2. Extra printouts. Sometimes I’ll print too many things on one topic. Or we’ll simply not get to it. I never toss/recycle what hasn’t been used, though. We always come back to it, even if that means coloring Christmas trees in March or creating our own Valentines in April. Also, sometimes I may click a link for a printable at one of the many homeschooling blogs I follow and think “oh, that looks cool but it has nothing to do with what we are talking about right now.” Rather than pass it up, I print it anyway and put it here.
3. My own notes and calendar. I admit I slacked on keeping my own idea list current as we became more unschool-ish in our days. While I mostly let E take the lead in what we do and when, there are still things I will steer her toward. I also like to see a printed copy of my monthly calendar at a glance while I’m flipping through my notes. I print a yearly one, too, so I can highlight or block out certain days/weeks (e.g., planned vacations/travel, hubby’s deployments) for a good overview.
4. Curriculum samples. Even though my very favorite “guidelines” about teaching young children are articles such as this one, it is nice to have a point of reference. I print copies of curriculum guidelines for at least two states/districts for her current grade level, as well as one grade level below and above, just to have a rough idea of what we might like to do.
5. Sample work. It helps that E loves a good printout, because I have plenty of options for what to keep here. I hang on to a few pages per week, maybe a math worksheet, some writing or spelling practice, or even random artwork. She recently became fascinated with making her own books . . . usually retellings in her own words of, say, a Care Bear adventure, so I’m keeping all of those as well. I also include here gems I’d want to hold on to as a parent even if we weren’t homeschooling, like when she writes notes to her younger sister: Dear Julia, please stay out of my room, you are bothering me. Love, Eva.
How do you keep your homeschooling days organized?
Thank you for reading and have a blessed day.
Valerie, her Navy husband, and her three Secret Agents (aka children) just moved back to the states after two years of living in Italy. In addition to her homeschooling adventures, she muses about attachment parenting, breastfeeding, discipline, getting organized, travel, and writing. Find her blogging at Momma in Progress and connect on Facebook or Twitter.