Paper Avalanche? How I Organize Schoolwork

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One of the great joys of homeschooling is keeping all of those completed papers, right? I mean, how else are you going to convince total strangers that your children are well-educated? ?And you have to have some papers showing progress for your records just in case there’s ever a question. Folks homeschooling in states that accept portfolios need to keep some papers too. ?Then of course there are all of the art projects, history projects and science experiments! Homeschool more than one child and you may find yourself longing for a special room just for your archives!

I struggled with this for a long time: what to keep? for how long? and where? (I still struggle with doing the actual filing but that’s another story).

Last year I finally came up with something that works well for us.

I decided that I was going to have three places for filing: one for the work for a particular month that I would sort and file at the end of the month, one file crate with selected work in it, and one spot in the file cabinet for completed workbooks. Let’s look at how I use each space,

Work of the month:

Each child has a pocket in the hanging file folder on the back of the school closet door. In this pocket are three file folders in the child’s color (yellow=Buggle, pink= Mouse, etc). One file is for completed work, one for things I’ve printed that we are going to need (labeled “New Work”) and one for art projects. The children are responsible for putting their corrected, completed work into their completed file, and the art files are mostly used for art they have created themselves, coloring they are particularly proud of etc.

This year I added a zippered three-ring binder for each of them: work for the week gets hole punched and stuck in these when I do my planning each weekend.

File Crate:

This is just a plastic milk crate with a hanging file for each month. Inside the hanging files are regular files, labeled Art, School and other. At the back of the twelve monthly folders I have a year folder for each child. We do school year round so at the end of each month I gather the papers in the completed work folders in the closet, throw away any I really don’t need, paper clip the rest together by child and label them with the child’s name, the month and the year.

Art from the closet, collected and ready for filing.

Art from the closet, collected and ready for filing.

Mouse's collected work that I just filed.

Mouse’s collected work that I just filed.

The packets go into that month’s folder as Schoolwork, Art, or Other (postcards from a field trip for example). All three children’s work goes into the same folder.


At the same time I take out what I filed that month in the previous year quickly weed through it and file it in the year folder for that particular child. I find that waiting a year to do the heavy weeding means I have have much less attachment to the papers!

Finally I take any completed workbooks, label them with a completion date and stick in the back of one of the drawers in our household file cabinet. I do like to keep those as a reference for myself of what each child was doing at a particular age. Eventually I’ll probably cull them to the first and last book for each child for each year and box them for storage.


It really is a very easy system to use. I have a mental block that says “filing is a pain in the neck” that I’m working on because in reality if I do the filing every month it only takes about 15 minutes!

I can find anything I might need and the papers aren’t all over the house.

How do you keep track of schoolwork and art projects?

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2 Responses to Paper Avalanche? How I Organize Schoolwork

  1. Linda says:

    Very nice! A simple and easy system. I like the way you created the habit of weeding through the previous year as you go along. Thanks for sharing with us, I think I learned a few things I can use in our homeschool!

    • K_Steinmann says:

      The big breakthrough for me was when I figured out that I could have the bigger children file their own work in the hanging pockets at the end of the day! Before that I was waiting until I had “time to file” which meant I was constantly moving piles of paper from one surface to another!…K

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