Sunday, May 24, 2015

My Folder System

Homeschooling one kiddo was fairly interesting and required some prep work, but when I added kid #2 into the mix, I realized that I'd need to be a lot more organized. So I did what any sane person would do. I plunged into a season of trial and error. And it was so fun that I spent lots of hours on the internet and at least a year of testing stuff out to figure out what would work for keeping us on track. So if you are on a similar journey, here's something to add to the overflowing list of homeschool planning solutions. I call it the folder system (for lack of a creative term).

When I started the process, it was mid year. My first advice to anyone trying this out is to stock up on 3 prong pocket folders during back to school time when they are an average of 15¢ each. In the dead of winter I coughed up about 45¢ each. I was desperate to get organized though so I grabbed the bare minimum needed to get started--5 for each kid. When the next discounts came along, I got about 30 folders because they can get lost or mangled during the school year and I wanted extra on hand for filing special projects or storing theme materials.

Once you have your folders, label each one Monday, Tuesday, etc for each day you do school during the week. If I had done this in kindergarten and first grade years, I would have labeled it by numbers since we only did 3 or 4 days a week and I picked the days that worked best with our schedule and level of cooperation I was getting out of my spirited child. Next, I do my lesson planning for the week and put any worksheets in the left-hand side of the folder. Any book or workbook assignments get written on the folder assignment sheets that I made. In order to save paper, there are two days per page and you just have to cut it in half. Once the child completes the work, it goes to the right side of the folder and into their "to be graded" rack.

You can snag the printable pdf here.

When I'm feeling super organized, I will do two weeks of lesson planning at once and just paper clip the next week's assignments by day and stick it in a file folder. Another option is to get enough folders to have two weeks ready per child. Maybe next year I'll be that organized. I also prefer to do a different color for each day and my slightly compulsive self tends to go in rainbow order. Once again, it's all about personal preference at this point. Then I put all the folders and necessary books in each child's backpack and they are ready for a full week.

Here are some advantages to the folder system--

Some kids seem to do better if they know what is expected each day. My oldest child hated not knowing how much work was left after he completed one of his assignments.

If one of my kids wants to get their work done early, they have the option to work ahead on other folders (as long as the work isn't rushed or sloppy).

When I have their work put in folders, I am able to compare and see which days have heavy writing or math and switch assignments around so that the daily work is balanced.

I can compare each child's assignments to see which things I can expect the kids to work on independently and which things will need lots of one on one time. I try to alternate days based on that for my own sanity.

This folder system is the only one that has lasted in my family for longer than a few months, so I figured I'd share this organizational style in case it could help anyone else. And if not, there are at least 1000 more ways to lesson plan and organize your homeschool world. Happy planning!

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