How to simplify your homeschool binder

Written by Kara Fleck

Clucky, worn out, coming apart at the seams. I use my homeschool binder almost every day and it is in sad shape. It is heavy and crammed full, to the point where using it can be perilous thanks to a bent prong. I live in fear of it popping open and raining out papers all over.

It is a three inch binder with papers in the pockets, loose in different sections. Thanks to that bent prong I mentioned earlier, I cannot turn pages smoothly.

This isn’t working! Time for a homeschool binder makeover!

What to take out

I had articles and even ebooks that I had printed out because they were helpful. But do I really need them in my homeschool binder?

Would a digital system, like pinning the link to the article on a Pinterest board or a tear sheet filing system for hard copies be a better solution?

They don’t need to live in my binder.

What does need to be included in my binder are the papers that we use on a daily or weekly basis.

Everything else needs a different home.

More things I took out of my binder:

  • old curriculum schedules
  • articles I don’t refer to often
  • my kindergartener’s preK assessments (these can be filed away)
  • a morning routine we don’t follow anymore
  • monthly divider tabs for months that have passed (filed away until next school year)
  • a schedule for an extracurricular activity we no longer participate in
  • reader guide, curriculum for a book we finished last year
  • Books to Buy list, this needs to live in my purse so I have it with me when I’m shopping
  • several pages of the kids’ drawings and artwork (cute, but there is a better place for these)

 What to leave in

I tried to leave in the binder only the things that we truly use and need to have access to on a regular basis.

I’m thinking “simple,” “useful” and “essential” as I make decisions about what to keep.

What I left in my binder:

  • our state’s homeschool requirements, our homeschool I.D. number
  • our attendance record (mine came from Mama’s Learning Corner)
  • current booklists for each kid
  • the Tell Me About Your Book activity list (I cut and pasted and printed this from Elizabeth Foss’s Real Learning years ago)
  • The Charlotte Mason List of Attainments (printed from Ambleside Online)
  • current week by week schedules for each kid (printed from our curriculum)
  • the Harry Potter discussion guide we are using right now
  • each child’s transcripts
  • extra blank lab reports
  • extra five paragraph essay writing templates

What to add

Now that I’ve slimmed down and streamlined, I didn’t want to add a lot to my binder. However, a few things that I feel will be truly useful have been added.

What I added to my homeschool binder:

  • some blank notebook pages to use as I’m planning for next year
  • I’d like to come up with a homeschool mission statement

By the time all was said and done, I was actually able to downsize into a smaller binder that I think will be more manageable. Here’s to less frustration when dealing with homeschool paperwork!

Do you keep a homeschool binder? What do you have in it? Is it time to give your binder a makeover and simplify your system? I’d love to hear how you keep the papers you need on a daily basis organized in your homeschool!

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About Kara

Kara is mother of four, a caregiver, and a striped sock knitter. Uncomplicated and unconventional, you can find her sharing simple living tips at K. Elizabeth Fleck.

Comments

  1. In PA, we don’t need to document anything for the school district until age 8, so I won’t need a book log or attendance record until we start our upcoming school year 🙂
    So my 1/2 inch binder has a copy of our weekly schedule, a calendar with our break weeks on it, poetry from the poet we are focusing on right now for morning time, a list of mapwork that goes along with our history readings and the booklet from our Simply Charlotte Mason artist portfolio we do at morning time. That’s all I need for now!

  2. I used to have a binder for everything, much like you. Now the kids are older mind is very skinny as they keep everything. I love the layout you mention here. Divider tabs are my favorite! Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Jen’s latest post: Hope & Help for Successful Deschooling as a Working Mom

  3. I use a binder to keep track of everything too! And it definitely needs a clean out, because it’s really full and I’m not using everything in there. I talked about what I put in mine in this post: http://findinghomeblog.com/my-binder-system-for-homeschool-planning/
    It’s somewhat similar to what you have in yours. It’s always fun to peek at what other people are doing!
    Katy’s latest post: Recipe: Eat-Your-Veggies Spaghetti Sauce

  4. What Harry Potter guide are you using? Thanks in advance! -Eli

  5. Wait, I was supposed to be using a homeschool binder all these years? 🙂
    I love the sounds of yours and all the things you keep in it!

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