With the year closing, it just begs the question “How do I store all our schoolwork and records?”

One word. Binders. (Click here to download an editable version of my 3″ spine labels.)

It depends on your state requirements as to what you’re required to keep for homeschooling records. For our state, all I’m required to keep is a record of my hours and what curriculum I used and that’s it.

You can find out about your state requirements here: www.hslda.org

For my own conscience though I keep the following for each year:

My Yearly Records Binder:

  • Legal Docs: ie “Notification of Intent to Homeschool” or enrollment in an umbrella school, etc.
  • Receipts: I keep all receipts together for things I’ve bought for each school year. We aren’t allowed a tax write off right now, but a girl can dream can’t she? Plus it’s good for budgeting purposes.
  • Lesson Plans : I use my workbox excel sheet as lesson plans and keep these in the Records Binder. I have dividers that separate out the lesson plans for each child.
  • Record Keeping Software: I also use Homeschool Tracker to keep track of our hours, and it will print out all kinds of reports, hours, attendance, grades and lesson plans to name a few. Best part, it’s FREE! (When you go to their website, click on “The Basic Edition” and you’ll be taken to the free version.) Another option, Homeschool Skedtrack, is one that I haven’t used, but a friend recommended it to me. It’s an online record keeping site and is also free.

Student Work Binders: I get a 3” – 3 ring binder for each child each year. It has dividers that separate each subject and I file our work in the binder as it’s completed. Ie: tabs for Math, Language, Phonics, Spelling, Art (I only keep stuff that fits), Science; Handwriting. Crafts: Most art projects hang around in our room on a clothesline type display, then I toss them as we put up new ones. Harsh I know, but I’m so not a packrat and besides, there are pictures of everything on my blog, so that’s my consolation.

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Long Term Storage:

I store all of our yearly work binders in the basement on shelves. We’re only up to 2nd grade, so I don’t have too many yet, but eventually…sigh…I’ll probably toss the sweet little stick figures they drew along with the school work. But, for purely sentimental reasons, I’ll probably wait ‘til it’s a space issue. The below binders are 3” binders, they store quite a bit of work. And I keep the current year’s binders on our shelves in our homeschool room for easy access.
I have the kids put their completed work each day a stack-able file trays. Once those get full…or whenever I think about it... I take the papers and put them into the binders. That way at the end of the year I’m not having to go through mounds of paperwork.

So that’s my storage plan, for now anyhow. I’m sure as the amount of bulk increases, and my tolerance for clutter decreases, the binders may start making their way out the door, but until then, they can stay right where they are!

You can visit the www.hslda.org website to find out about requirements in your state.

25 Comments

  1. Erica Could you tell us how you store your stuff before using it, like all the stuff you laminate and then use for projects, what do you do with all of that before and after use?? and how about all the printables that are not laminated: what do you do with them before they are completed?

  2. thanks for sharing your system. I need to start this this year, so have been trying to figure out how to do it! This is what I've been trying to figure out on my own, so it meshes well with my ideas! thanks!Sort of like tax returns here.. keep for 7 years and toss out the last one? lol.. of course having 4 kids that will be a lot of binders LOL

  3. Love the work binder idea! I'm definitely going to do that this year though I shopped around for 3" binders and they are ridiculously expensive! The cheapest one at Walmart was around $7! What in the world?I have been searching your site and gleaning lots and lots of ideas!! Thanks so much for sharing all your work for others!!!

    1. Renee: For not much more (usually around $8 at Staples, but I’ve gotten them as low as $4-something on sale when buying multiples), you can get the Avery Heavy Duty D-ring 3″ binders. DEFINITELY spring for the Heavy Duty–don’t even compromise with the “Durable”! We’re into our fourth year with our oldest, and his original ones I bought him before Kindergarten are still like-new. Even the Durable ones only last a few months before they show obvious wear or the rings begin to gap. I bought six for each of them; “big” subjects like language arts are divided for their own sake (spelling, literature, language skills, etc.), but I didn’t need dividers for some unit-sequential subjects like math; several “smaller” subjects without much paper each can be rolled into one divided binder. I like the “Jelly Tab” dividers (especially the pocket ones)–the kids think they’re so cool looking, I can print from a template for the index page in back, and there are no tab inserts falling out–but I haven’t been able to find them new in stores for a couple of years now (luckily the ones I already have are currently sufficient and haven’t begun to wear at all).

      Also, all my kids are color-coded: all my oldest’s stuff (binders, locker bins, supply bins, backpacks, worksheet files, planners, book covers, pencils, staplers–EVERYTHING, you name it) is green; my middle’s is red; my youngest’s is blue. If something’s missing or found, we immediately know whose it is and, therefore, where it goes! Since their subjects are also color coded in their online school, one of their “back-to-school” projects is to design their own binder inserts for each subject from its color construction paper (e.g., lang arts is purple, math is blue, science is green, history is turquoise, Spanish is red, music is orange…). It’s SUPER easy to ask a kid to get “such-and-such’s whatever-subject binder”–they just look for that kid’s color binder with the corresponding color insert. It’s also much easier for me when I’m filing the youngest one’s papers each day (or few days…).

      One problem I ran into with the younger grades especially was a LOT of cutout stuff–one would think that stuff would be incompatible with binder storage. My solution is to glue an envelope or staple a plastic zipper bag to a blank piece of notebook paper, along with any instructions or other important information cut from the original. The kids name/date/unit-and-lesson that page (and if it goes in order with other worksheets, I can write the page number on the bottom corner to make sure it stays in order anytime it’s removed and put back). For “gameboard”-type worksheets, where the cutouts are game cards or pieces on a separate sheet, sometimes I’m able to attach the bag/envelope right to the back of the whole sheet.

      Each child has an art portfolio (a real, large, sturdy one with a handle, from an art supply store) for flat artwork. We make great use of art fixative spray, as well as end rolls of blank newsprint from the local newspaper office for both artwork itself and for cutting off protective sheets to layer between the pieces.

      brigitdryad0

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