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Do I Need to Keep It All?


For a homeschool year to be truly successful, organization is as critical as scheduling and planning. But homeschooling also generates a great deal of stuff to organize. There’s just no better word for it! Not only do you have to consider the books and supplies, but you also have to contemplate what to keep after the year is over. What do you need for record-keeping? For a portfolio? For future students?

A year’s worth of one student’s homeschool papers, workbooks, and projects can be hard to store. Multiply that times several years and any number of children, and it can be overwhelming. But there’s good news: you don’t need to keep it all! Here are some organizational tips to help you decide what to keep and what can be thrown out.

A Representative Sample

You don’t need to keep every assignment your child has done. Instead, keep a representative sample. Choose a few key assignments in each subject from throughout the year, specifically selecting the ones that show the progress your child has made. Be sure to keep something from the beginning, middle, and end of each school year, and date each item. While you don’t need to keep everything during the current school year, families sometimes find it helpful to hold onto schoolwork for the current year and then decide what to keep at the end of the year.

Keep the Best

Unless you are keeping something to show a specific skill your child needs to work on or has shown improvement in, keep only the best work that your child has done in each subject. For example, you don’t necessarily need to keep all of the rough drafts of a writing assignment. Instead, keep the final copy.

Let Your Child Help

For assignments such as art projects and writing exercises, allow your child to pick some favorites to keep. Again, look for projects from the beginning, middle, and end of the year. Depending on your child, you may need to place a limit on the number of items that may be kept. If there are projects that are extra special to your child, consider setting aside a small keepsake box for to store those favorites. Something that will fit under a bed is ideal for this.

Take Photographs

For large items such as art projects, science experiments, and dioramas, take digital photos instead of keeping the item itself. This will require a lot less storage space, while still allowing you and your child to enjoy the fruits of her labor. Use informative filenames and descriptive folders (child, school year, subject, etc.) to ensure that you remember what project fits with what child and time frame. A personal or family blog is a great place to add in other details you don’t want to forget. This can either be a public blog, viewable by others, or it can be completely private for just your family.

Use a Computerized System

Rather than keep a print copy of assignments and projects, use a computerized system instead. Scan paper copies and take photos of larger assignments. You can store all of your children’s schoolwork on a small external hard drive, or even online, and save tons of space! This system transitions well as your students grow and begin to start typing assignments and lab reports. You already have a place to store them! Again, take the time now to go ahead and use filenames and a folder organization system that will help you keep up with each digitized record. 

One additional note needs to be made regarding high school students. It is not uncommon for high schoolers to wish they still had certain papers or essays that might not have seemed so important when they were completing the assignments. Even certain workbook assignments, especially for subjects where they have to process through their thoughts on a certain topic, can be something they regret throwing away. Fortunately, it’s very easy to go digital with high school projects and assignments, enabling you to keep more than you might have in the earlier years. As you head into the high school years, go ahead and plan on securing an external hard drive or online storage location to make it simple to keep assignments stored well.

It isn’t always easy to decide what to keep and what to trash, especially for those of us who are more sentimental. But when your house is being overrun with paper and projects, it’s nice to know that it isn’t necessary to keep EVERYTHING!

Does your personality lend itself toward organization, or do you struggle to know just how to keep everything together?  Take our Planner Personality Quiz to discover your planner personality type and find tips to help you organize well, no matter what your personality may  be!

In addition to working as managing editor for HEDUA, Ann is a missionary kid, second generation homeschooler, pastor's wife, and mom of three. She loves encouraging and equipping others, especially women in the homeschooling and ministry communities.

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