Organizing Homeschool Worksheets
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OK, so I'm not an organizer. I probably have a dozen areas in my house (and my life!) that could use a professional touch. I do have an undying love for The Container Store, but I don't think that counts. I do have a bunch of homeschool organization ideas that I've implemented over the past several years, and I'm excited to share them with you, but this is still one of my favorite systems that has worked the best!
I used to be completely disorganized, but something about adding babies #3 and #4 (update: #5) to the mix opened my eyes to a need for cleanliness and organization. Plus, working from home and homeschooling together with all of these kids means I NEED to be organized, for my sake and theirs! Not to mention the fact that I want to teach them good habits and skills. I'm trying to avoid raising future hoarders.
After trying so many different types of curriculum, I felt like I either had way too many books and papers stacked in my kitchen (where we prefer to learn), or way too many books and papers scattered all over the entire house!
This past year we've been working our way through My Father's World Exploring Countries and Cultures with my nine-year-old, and MFW 1st Grade with my 6-year-old.
At first, I had a really hard time organizing the paperwork and keeping things easily accessible. We tried a workbox system, but I honestly just did not want to spend so much time prepping every day. My husband always says that time is a person's most valuable resource, and I totally agree. I would much rather spend time learning and being together as a family than organizing and preparing.
This organizational method allows me to prep once a week (either Friday after school or on Sunday before the new school week starts), and keeps us nicely organized without papers everywhere.
First, I took all of the MFW Student Sheets and hole-punched them. They went into a really big binder, separated by a divider so that the ECC papers didn't get mixed up with the 1st Grade papers.
Then I laminated the sheets that we need to re-use, like the Bible verse sheets for ECC, and the reading chart and books of the Bible list for MFW 1st.
Then I took a bunch of file folders and labeled them, Weeks 1 – 52 (we school year-round).
At the end of every school week, I remove the laminated sheets and file the folder (for example, week 27) with completed work in a filebox in my office, which I keep next to my Student Sheet binder.
To prepare for the next week, I take the folder for that week (for example, week 28), and insert all of the needed sheets from my binder. I then add the laminated sheets that we use every day (memory verse sheet, reading chart, and books of the Bible), plus any other materials needed that week (like Art Cards for 1st grade).
Once my folder is ready for the week, I keep the folder and the teacher's manual in an easily accessible place (usually a basket on my kitchen counter) so it's ready for school.
One of the best thing about this system is that when one of the student sheets or work sheets is completed, I keep it in the file. So, now that we are on week 30, I have 30 files of the kids' work. We can easily look back and see areas that they have progressed.
I took this a step further and started putting weekly meal plans, notes, pictures, and other things I want to keep in each week's file. I know they are safe, and I have them organized for an easy look back at every week of the school year.
This system saves me a lot of time and trouble. I have a pretty box on my counter where I keep the teacher's manuals, our school files for the week, and a file for incoming bills that need to be paid. It's small, but I can move it to another room if company is coming (I usually just leave it there, but my husband is on an anti-clutter crusade and I think he prefers it out of sight).
I keep my teacher's manuals for math and language arts in my office because I don't typically use them everyday. That way they are easily accessible when I need them.
How do you organize your homeschool books and papers? I am always looking for new and better ideas, so if you have suggestions please share!
We, too, homeschool year-round. Our papers are organized into a big 3-ring binder (I think we used a 3 inch this year). I have a teacher planner book, and put the loose sheets into the future weeks that they are going to be used. At the beginning of each week, I take the week’s work out and put it into a manila folder that has dividers for M-F in it so the work is ready to grab out of each day.
I have tried a few methods and this one has worked well for a couple years. 🙂
I like it! I’ve looked at a few teacher planner books but I haven’t found anything I like. I like the manila folder idea too!
I use a similar system for Tapestry of Grace. Each school week is filed and prepped. My biggest downfall is my teacher’s binder, but your system has inspired me to work on it again. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks! I’ve always thought Tapesty of Grace looked really interesting. The key to my worksheet/Teacher’s binder for me is to keep it simple. I only have one divider in it separating the work for my two older students. I tried weekly dividers once and it was just too much!
Great ideas! I’m visiting from Weekly Wrapup. I always start out organized but can never stick to it.
Me too! That’s why work boxes, etc haven’t lasted for more than a month at my house. The only reason these folders have worked for me is because it’s more work NOT to organize this way. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
Love the idea of the weekly folders. I have been looking for suggestions, because I too do not like the idea of having to organize workboxes constantly (and I don’t have the time). I did ok when I was just homeschooling 1 and working. But I brought the youngest home this year and ended up having to give up working because he needed so much attention. So, we are bringing the 3rd home in the Fall, and I have been trying to figure out how to organize 3 different levels (one is in high school) for 3 exceedingly active children (2 student athletes and 1 special needs). I have been working on a teacher binder to organizer curriculum for next year, but I’ll try the folders in the box for papers. Thanks.
Wow, congratulations! Three levels is tough – this is my first year teaching three at once. I’m using My Father’s World so that I can do multiple grades at once, but high school is a whole different story!
Thanks for sharing this organizational system! I love how it is all set up and ready at the beginning of the year. And then genius that it keeps the finished work organized as well. We school year round too, but I’m already thinking of how to better organize for next year! Thanks for the ideas!
Thanks! I just got frustrated because there are SO many papers so I had to do something! 🙂
Hello, I just ordered MFW to start in January. I am curious about your schedule. We school year round as well, I’m curious what your schedule is like. You said you have 52 folders, one for each week. Do you school every week of the year? Thanks for your feedback.
For the weeks we don’t have school, I use the folders for special drawings or extra worksheets the kids do. We don’t do a certain number of weeks on, then another few weeks off, although I know some families who love scheduling that way. We schedule long breaks for Thanksgiving, Christmas, vacations, and a week off for birthdays just because. Then we fill in the rest of the time with the 36 school weeks. We usually end up doing school from August to the end of June.
Thank you for the quick response. That makes perfect sense. That is about how we schedule as well. That helps me know what to do with all my files.
This is a wonderful post! I really need to use your suggestions this year. Are you still using MFW? I would love to read an update on how your organization has worked with it. 😉
Yes! I should write up a better post with new pictures, but that system has worked REALLY well for us and we are continuing to use it! We are taking a break with MFW for the year – not because I don’t love it (I really do), but because of financial concerns. We are really looking forward to jumping back in with MFW next year, though!
Hi Jen! I don’t know how I missed your reply to my comment back in September, so sorry! I’m bummed to hear that you won’t be using MFW this year. Have you found something more cost-effective for this year? I do hope you are able to come back to MFW next year, especially since you enjoy it. God bless!