Picture of piles of papers and books on a desk, dark green overlay with ivory text

Oh, those homeschool paperwork pileups! As we approach the end of another school year, is your desk covered in piles of paperwork? You know, projects, reports, assignments, worksheets – all the papers or workbooks that come with homeschooling! Those piles of papers can be daunting and discouraging!

Perhaps you are one of those homeschooling supermoms who always have everything graded, sorted, and organized before bedtime every night—more power to you. But maybe you are one of us “normal” homeschool moms who never have enough time to complete everything. The piles of papers accumulate, not because of intentional neglect but because so many other things are crying for your attention! If that’s you, this may help you conquer those papers.

So, let me help you get those piles of papers and assignments under control in just five simple steps. Put these five steps to work, and you will soon have a clean(er) desk or work area. (Are homeschool mom’s desks or work areas ever really clean? If so, they sure don’t stay that way for long!)

Step One: Sort and Organize the Homeschool Paperwork

Each of our brains works differently. (That’s probably a good thing!) So, how you sort and organize your papers and assignments depends on how your brain works. But here are a couple of suggestions.

Sorting and organizing all those assignments will save you time in the long run. Jumping from one answer key to another after every paper will cause frustration, delay, and lack of focus. Once your papers are organized and sorted, you can stick with the same answer book until you have finished with that subject.

Organize by Child

First, go through all the paperwork and all the assignments waiting for your attention, and sort them by child. Timmy’s work is in one pile, Sally’s in another, and so on.

Organize by Subject

Once you have completed that step, sort each child’s pile by subjects. It might help if you go further and put the assignments in order by pages or dates. Then, when you open your answer books, you can quickly grade one assignment right after another.

A recommendation from experience: Grade the subject you least want to grade first, so you get it out of the way, done, and over with. Then you can proceed to subjects you enjoy better. Speaking for myself, I would much rather grade math assignments than essays!

Step Two: Grade those Papers

Okay, you have all those papers sorted and organized. Now comes the hard part. Start grading. Isn’t that why those assignments were on your desk? Grading assignments helps us understand what our kids aren’t getting. It gives us insight into where our kids are struggling.

Do You Grade Every Assignment?

Not everyone grades everything! We can often review an assignment and see if our kids have done the work carefully and accurately. Other assignments will require actual grading to see if our kids have learned the concepts correctly.

 Some homeschooling moms grade only tests. Some don’t grade anything. Others grade everything. Which of those categories defines you?

How to Know What to Grade

The homeschooling laws in your state should be the first thing you consider as you determine which assignments need complete grading. Know what your state laws require. You may disagree with them, but complying with those regulations is in your best interest.

The age or grade of your child may make a difference in what you choose to grade thoroughly. Colleges or employers never look for grade school transcripts or reports! I think you need to be much more serious about grading during the high school years.

Then, consider the assignment. Does a particular assignment warrant careful grading, or can you mark it satisfactory? Will you use a 5-point scale or a 20-point scale?

So, get that grading finished! And then celebrate! That’s a huge accomplishment!

For more information about grading projects and essays, see this:

Step Three: Record all the Grades

Hurray! You have graded all those piles of assignments on your desk! Now what? Well, record those grades! If you are going through all the trouble of grading, get those grades written down somewhere.

How to Record the Grades

How do you record your grades? Do you have a system to use? Once again, all of us think and work differently, affecting the types of systems we use for everything, including grade recording or record keeping.

  • Some people like using paper and pen; for them, an old-school grade book may be their favorite tool.
  • Some of you probably have homeschool software systems that include record-keeping capabilities.
  • You can easily set up a simple spreadsheet to keep track of your grades. You can easily create a grading record using either Excel or Google Sheets.

Whichever system you prefer, set it up and regularly use it!

What to Do with the Recorded Grades

So, you recorded all those grades in your system. Then what? What will you do with those? Maybe nothing. Or, if you produce report cards for your kids, those grades are there waiting for you to average and compile those report cards.

If your state homeschool laws require grade reporting, you have just made your life easier. You have all those grades ready to comply with your state’s regulations.

If you are working with high schoolers, you are one step closer to preparing any needed transcripts for future employers or college admissions.

Congrats to you! By doing this work now, you are making future work easier!

Step Four: File Anything that Needs Saving

Okay, you have sorted and organized those papers, graded and recorded them, but the piles of paper are still covering your desk! Granted, they are now organized piles, but they still need to go away, to disappear! Do you need to save any of those papers or assignments? Are your kids emotionally attached to any of them? Hey, are you emotionally attached to any of them? Let’s work on figuring that out!

Are You Required to Save Anything?

First, determine whether you are required to save any of this work. Do your state homeschooling laws require you to save any work? Do you need any of these assignments to document progress? If so, set the required work aside to be saved or documented. Either organize and file it or scan it into your computer and save it there.

What Do You or Your Kids Want to Save?

Requirements are one thing, but what about those projects your kids worked so hard on and want to save? You know, those posters, dioramas, projects – the ones that take up a lot of space, yet you or the kids can’t bear to throw them out. What do you do with them?

Take pictures and save the photos. Create a file on your computer for each kid and save the images to those files. Take pictures of your child holding the project. Take close-up photos of the project. The images will live indefinitely on your computer; the projects can disappear now.

How to Create a Portfolio

Creating a portfolio representative of your kids’ best work may satisfy state requirements and emotional or sentimental demands. Like artists keep portfolios to demonstrate their work, you can make a portfolio to illustrate your child’s achievements.

Paper Portfolios

A paper portfolio can be as simple as a set of file folders for each child, perhaps different colored folders for each child. You can use a separate folder to hold representative work for each year. If you want to include specific projects in the portfolio, print out the photos you took.

Remember, a portfolio represents your child’s work, so be selective in what you include. (And limit the amount of paperwork!)

Digital Portfolios

A digital portfolio is the same idea as a paper portfolio but without the papers! Scan everything you want to include in the portfolio, set up folders where your collection will reside on your computer, and there you have it, a digital portfolio, always there for you.

Step Five: Get Rid of All the Rest of that Homeschool Paperwork Pileup!

And now, for the best part! Get rid of all those papers! Clean those piles off your desk! Once those papers are graded, recorded, and selectively saved and filed, don’t hang on to them any longer. Toss them, burn them, recycle them, whatever you choose, but get rid of them!

Once you work through these five simple steps to rid your desk of all that paperwork, you will wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Okay, I know why you didn’t – you didn’t have time! Or you were just overwhelmed with the project.

But now that you’ve finished, don’t you feel free? Or at least your desk may feel free!

So often, uncompleted tasks weigh us down or burden us. They are always hanging over our heads, mocking us, threatening us. Finish this task and celebrate! The papers will pile up again; they always seem to return, multiplying on our desks. But now you know how to tackle the task and relegate those piles of papers into oblivion!

Carol Rhine Rhine Home School Services

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