I know, I know . . . it’s the end of the school year, and you are more than ready to take a break. So many things in life call us away from some of the planning and record keeping that we know we need to do.
Whether it’s that upcoming vacation, relaxing by the pool, picking up that book you’ve been waiting to read, or any other number of pleasures (or even obligations!) that are calling your name—what I have to share with you today is essential to your homeschool year.
I have three (truly) easy steps that will help you be so neat and organized with all your homeschool records so that you can sit by the pool carefree! Don’t put off what you know will stress you out in August. Do it now and ENJOY your summer!
Wrapping Up the School Year
STEP 1: NOTEBOOK PORTFOLIO CREATION
If you have been following along with me for any length of time, you probably already started a notebook portfolio for your kids at the beginning of the school year. If you just found me, or are simply new to this topic, then you need to go ahead and buy a notebook for each of your kids. For elementary ages, a 1-inch notebook will work. For junior high and high school, you will likely need a larger notebook (no larger than 2 inches). The older the child, the more detailed assignments they will have and the longer papers they will write, so they will naturally need a bigger notebook.
The long-term goal is to have a notebook for each school year. This means you’ll want to use the smallest notebook possible that will fit all that you need to keep—the more compact, the better (more on that in step 2). You also need dividers with tabs to write each subject’s name on for each child’s notebook.
You will place schoolwork from the past year for each subject into the notebooks behind the appropriate tabs. Now, this might shock you . . . but do NOT keep everything! Only keep SOME of the things. Keep the important things, the milestones, the favorites, tests, field experiences, hours, etc.
Then guess what? Throw the rest away! Yes, I said it. As my son Luke said, it’s actually quite freeing to throw some of it away! And don’t just keep the assignments with the best grades, but also keep those that were especially challenging. It will remind your child of their educational journey, and that is an important part of learning.
Let your kids pick their notebook colors and decorate them. We have pretty consistently done this over the years, and it’s a lot of fun for everyone.
We start this notebook at the beginning of the year and sort through papers at least once a month (once a week when my kids were younger). But don’t worry, you can create that habit for next year.
You should also put your lesson plans, grades, assessments, field trip details, and other records in this notebook. We personally use the Student Record and Planner I created because it’s a nice, compact book that has literally all I need in one spot. This book has everything from a yearly calendar to attendance records, all the way to the educational snapshot (my version of lesson plans).
Regardless of how you keep track of these items, put them in the pocket of the portfolio notebook for quick reference. If your kids are involved in things like piano, sports, theater, or volunteer activities, you will want to put those recorded hours in their notebooks. Our free printable Back-to-School Activities Pack has a form that makes this super simple.
So why do you need to do this? In my case, my state doesn’t require it, and I’ve never been asked to prove anything. If ever I am asked, it will all be readily available (trust me—it’s worth being prepared on this one). But it’s more than that. I’ve known many parents who needed records to apply for scholarships and even college admission. So get organized now!
STEP 2: STORAGE
- Clear storage bin, about 66qt.
- Sharpie marker
- Location for storage
Now that you have these notebooks each year, how do you organize them? I put them into clear storage bin plastic bins, one for each child. We always use clear bins so we can easily see what’s inside.
Be sure to label the edge of each notebook with your child’s name, the year, and grade level so you can have everything right at your fingertips.
Remember when I said you want to use the smallest notebook possible for the number of things you need to put in each one? This will help in general organization, but it will also help you fit the notebooks in the bins with ease.
Last but not least, these are also fantastic keepsakes to go through with your kids later. My kids absolutely love looking back at their work and all the memories they made.
That’s it! Simply store these bins in your garage, attic space, or wherever it makes sense for your family.
STEP 3: EVALUATE
- Organized Homeschool Planner (or a notebook)
- A few minutes set aside
The process of evaluating your school year is SO important that I think it will either make (or break) your next homeschool year. Yes, it’s THAT important.
I use the Organized Homeschool Planner to keep track of evaluation notes. This planner was a lifesaver for me as a homeschool mom. You don’t have to use this exact planner (although I do highly recommend it), but you need to find a way to organize and write things down. In the Organized Homeschool Planner, I have a section for evaluating the last year. It has questions like: What went well? What didn’t go well? Is there something that was lacking? What schedule changes need to happen? And many more.
For example, we’ve tried several different homeschool co-ops, which never seem to be a good fit for us. This year, I made a note to remind myself to NEVER do that again. Another example is that I realize I need to add more theology topics into our year to better prepare my kids. I felt like there were a few holes in this area, especially for my two youngest. I also incorporated a “no internet before 2 pm” rule. That worked really well for us. The point is that by evaluating the ups and downs of the past year, we are intentionally preparing a better plan for the upcoming year.
The Organized Homeschool Planner also has a section for evaluating each child emotionally, spiritually, and academically. Where are they struggling or excelling? This is truly one of the most important aspects of helping our children grow from year to year. We can look at the last year and see if they have made any progress over the summer as we plan for the upcoming year. This will help you to see the areas that need to be nurtured.
Write down your evaluations in your planner or the notebook you will be using for the NEXT homeschool year. You NEED to do this at the end of the school year, though. Why? Because it’s all fresh in your mind. And you might think you will remember it all, but let’s be honest with ourselves—that’s not happening. So let’s do it!
If you need extra help with homeschool planning in general, join me in my Homeschool Planning Boot Camp, where I will help you plan for your whole school year in just 5 days! It’s fun and FREE!
STEP 4: CELEBRATE 🎉🙌😁
It’s not really a step, but celebration is one of the best parts of life, and you will never regret taking the time to celebrate with your kids. You can do something different each year, or pick something you love and make it an annual tradition! Here are some ideas of ways to celebrate wrapping up the school year.
- Have an ice cream bar (lots of ice cream and all the special toppings to make your own creation).
- Create a photo slideshow of the past year and watch it together.
- Go camping for a celebration weekend.
- Have a special family game night with unique snacks.
- Make a summer bucket list together as a family.
- Make a scrapbook of the school year together while listening to fun music.
- Have each child present their top 3 favorite school projects to the whole family (invite extended family too).
- Have a scavenger hunt with prizes.
- Go fishing and take a picnic lunch.
- Have a glow-in-the-dark party and invite other homeschool friends.
- Have an end-of-the-year ceremony with awards for areas the kids excelled in.
- Create a year-in-review questionnaire for your kids to fill out and share with the family. It’s fun to review past years’ questionnaires at the same time to see how the kids have changed.
- Be creative and come up with your own celebration!
Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.