Ahhh! You’ve made it through the year, and next year is on the horizon. Then you look around and see all the stuff that a year of homeschooling has accumulated. Books and papers and art projects galore! Unless you have a huge amount of storage space, it is time for an end-of-the-year purge so you can organize well for the new school year. What should you keep? What can you throw away?
Here are some tips as you make your decisions.
Curriculum & Books
Because they tend to be our most expensive purchases, making decisions about curriculum and books can be very difficult. Still, our houses have only so much space for books, and years of homeschooling can build up quite a collection. Consider these questions as you decide what can go:
- Is it in good shape? If the book is falling apart, you might want to let it go and look for a new copy if you discover you need it later.
- Did you like it? This may seem like a pretty basic question, but if the curriculum wasn’t what you expected or you didn’t like it at all, it’s a pretty safe bet you won’t want to use it again.
- Do you have a younger child who will use it? When thinking about this question, take into consideration the previous question as well as learning styles and preferences. What was perfect for one child may not be at all what the next one needs.
- Do I have more than one copy? If you have duplicates you won’t use, set those aside.
You might find a friend or co-op that you would like to donate items to. Or earn money toward next year’s curriculum by selling your books through HomeschoolUsedBook.com or another similar store. Put any books that you want to keep, but won’t be using for a while, into storage. The rest can be returned to your shelves for next year.
Workbooks and Papers
If you haven’t been regularly sorting as you go through the year, you most likely have a LOT of papers. This avalanche of homeschool papers can be overwhelming, especially if you try to keep everything. If you’ve had your yearly evaluation, or don’t need one, it’s time to deal with them. You don’t need to keep everything! Here’s how to decide:
- If you’re student uses workbooks, tear out and keep the first and last lesson. Then choose a few lessons throughout the year that show progress and growth.
- Keep a representative sample of worksheets or writings and other papers. Pick some from the beginning, middle, and end of the year. Again, you are looking for growth.
- Allow your student to pick a few favorites.
Now, label a file folder or file box with your student’s name and the year, and file your paperwork away. Consider adding checklists, notes, and other items to create a yearly student portfolio. If space is really at a premium, you can also scan or take pictures of papers and save them as PDF documents or image files.
A year’s worth of school will leave a trail of used school supplies in its wake. This is a great project to get your kids involved in. Even little ones can sort broken crayons or check markers. Throw away the partially used construction paper, mostly-used or dried-out glue, broken scissors and rulers, etc. Evaluate crayons to determine whether they can be kept for another year or need to be replaced. Give each child a collection of markers and pens and ask them to try out each one on a piece of copy paper or a partially-used notebook, then toss the ones that no longer work. Kids can be in charge of checking notebooks to see if there is enough paper left to keep, tearing out the used pages if there is.
Put the usable items back in their proper locations, step back, and sigh. You’ve done it! Your year is complete and your school items are ready for another successful year next year!