This past year, I’ve focused a little more on digital recordkeeping than in years past. While there are some things I want to keep in physical form, I know I’m much better off by simplifying.
So what do I mean by recordkeeping?
Besides the traditional report card and high school transcripts, some states require homeschool portfolios. Typically portfolios are a collection of the student’s best work, and can include anything from hands on projects, to science research, to essays, and works of art.
During my first year of homeschooling, I had six kids at home. I saved everything. Every worksheet, every drawing, and even the scratch paper they used during math tests. I was worried I would one day have to account for every second they spent at home.
At the end of the school year, I was left with 4 filing boxes full of paper, and 5 boxes of art and history projects. When my husband was left with the task of packing the boxes away in our garage, he was not happy. The following year I had 5 kids at home and I ended up with a total of 14 filing boxes, bringing my 2 year total to 23 boxes.
On my third year, I grasped the portfolio concept a bit better and had just 3 boxes at the end of that year.
This year, my goal is just one.
Here’s how I plan to accomplish this, and how you can too.
1. Use spreadsheets to help you keep track of what’s important.
The screenshot below, is of a spreadsheet that breaks down the general idea of what we learned this year as a group. Since spreadsheets are editable I can easily go in and add or remove items without an issue. At the end of the school year, all I need to do is save the final edited spreadsheet in a digital folder. Gone are the days of writing extensive lesson plans in hefty books, that later had to be kept as a record of what you taught your kids each year. Thanks to technological advances today we can save tons of time using spreadsheets that can be used again and again.
Below, is a screenshot of a spreadsheet we use again and again. The high schoolers keep track of the time they spend on each subject, as well as a reading log. At the end of the week, they save their entries as a PDF that I file in their individual digital folders. I use these to keep track of high school credits, for transcript purposes.
Spreadsheets are customizable, editable, and take up very little space. Lots of information, kept neatly organized, no paper or ink required.
2. Scan what you can.
While we like to do as much as we can digitally, not all assignments can be, nor should they. However that does not mean you can’s store them that way.
While packing for a move, I discovered 4 boxes full of art work my kids did when they were younger. I love looking through it, but I hardly ever do, because it’s all packed away. Since then I’ve slowly started to scan what I can, then, storing it in digital files.
While the artwork has a lot of sentimental value, I know that I won’t always have the space to continue to store everything. After living in a nearly 3,000 sq ft home, and downsizing to possibly one-third of that, I truly value the amount of space I have to work with.
Most affordable printers have a scanning function, and give you the ability to compress files while scanning. Storing everything digitally, frees up space in your home, and saves you time in the long run.
3. Document experiments & time consuming projects with pictures and video.
During year 2 of our homeschooling journey, the girls and I built a castle while learning about the Middle Ages. It’s measurements were 2’X3’X1-1/2″, and it took well over 6 weeks to build. After admiring it for an entire semester, we moved the it to the garage, where it sat for almost 2 years. Sadly, it was eventually smashed during a move. What’s worse, is that we didn’t keep a single record of it.
Since, we’ve learned to document projects like that one a little closely, by taking lots of photos and video when necessary. I then store those photos and videos, in digital folders.
4. File a all you can digitally.
After you’ve migrated all your planning and recordkeeping to digital files, you can move those files to digital folders. Whether you’re in the midst of an extended move (like ours), schooling on the road, or on your way to living a simple more organized life; everything you need is easily accessible, and can be taken with you wherever you go.
Below, is a screenshot of a digital folder for one of my high schoolers. This is where I keep her report cards, completed projects, graded essays, and even test scores.
Take these 4 steps today.
Ultimately getting yourself organized and keeping less clutter will not only leave you with more space. It’ll actually allow you with more time to spend, on the things you actually care for. Summer is the best time to get ready and organized for the fall.
Remember organization requires a little bit of effort in the beginning, with a huge payoff in the end.