Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The New Homeschool Filing System

Ok...I know you all are super excited about this new system I've put together! Hold onto your hats!! Here we go.

First of all I'd like to acknowledge Dawn over at By Sun and Candlelight for the inspiration for this method along with Kendall in GA over at the FIAR message boards who does something similar and helped me to clarify why this is going to work. I couldn't have done it without them!

Step 1: Get your materials ready.

Starting materials include file crates and a set of file jackets- aka: pocket file folders. They have sides so the folder forms a pocket. These can gusset open to about 1.5 inches- I think that will hold plenty!

Next make sure your label maker is ready to go. Could you do this job without a label maker? Well I suppose the technical answer is yes, but why would you EVER want to do that?? There is just a crazy sense of satisfaction when you use a label maker- am I right Jenn?

Step 2: Determine what labels you want to have on your folders aka: What am I filing??

This is where my system differs from both Dawn's and Kendall's. Dawn's filing system seems to be for household business- holidays and seasons listed throughout the year and she mentions saving mementos, cards, etc. here. I don't have that kind of time in my day girls. Though I do save things to scrapbook and you'll see momentarily where that stuff will gather. Kendall uses hers strictly for FIAR book units. I had a flash of brilliance while reading about this earlier in the week and I will attempt to combine these two schools of thought.

My system is for homeschool items only. Any item like a certificate, picture, etc from children's activities or maps/pamplets from family trips will no longer stack on the work surface in my secret lair. I will have a hanging folder on my paper file cart (in the secret lair) where those things will gather labeled with the current year. Clever, huh? Then when I'm ready to scrapbook the event I know right where to look instead of peeking through stack.

My labels:
  • Autumn 2008 (Sept/Oct)
  • Co-op Fall 2008
  • Holiday 2008 (Nov/Dec)
  • Winter 2009 (Jan/Feb)
  • Co-op Spring 2009
  • Early Spring 2009 (Mar/Apr)
  • Late Spring 2009 (May/June)
  • Summer 2009 (July/Aug)
  • Homeschool Administration
  • Nature Study
  • Book titles for the year
  • Units for the year- non FIAR units (*gasp* I do have a few of those)
  • FIAR review
  • World Geography
What goes inside?

Seasonal folders- will hold craft ideas, lapbooking resources, places to go- whatever pertains to that season of the year that we can do for school.

Homeschool Administration- will hold all documents that I send in to the county or I receive back from them. The plan is to print the documents as they are made or come in and store them here. At the end of the year, all the documents from the year will be neatly kept in hardcopy form- in case we need them. In NY, those documents include a letter of intent, Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP), quarterly reports, and year end assessments- for each school aged student.

Co-op- will have papers, reminders, sign ups, etc. from that semester's coop. These items may remain here or be transferred to the scrapbook folder if that's where it goes.

Nature Study- here I will stash bits and pieces I find for notebooking our nature studies, printed forms from the FIAR Nature Unit Studies and outdoor hour challenges.

Book Titles- each folder is labeled with the name of the book and as I'm online I can print and store right away activities that I come across instead of bookmarking them to return later. I figure this will be a time saver AND I won't have to scramble to get items printed so close to lesson time or on lesson day- that is a real lesson buster if the kids have to wait on me.

This was the thing I clarified with Kendall. She uses the book title method and has a pocket for every FIAR book. She prints and saves and I asked her about two things. Does she purge? and Does she use everything she prints? Her answers: She never purges! The system is the way it is. She will keep them set up and uses the stuff for the next child. When she's all done FIAR, she isn't sure what she'll do with all the stuff. LOL. She does not use everything that looked good when she printed it, but might use it with the next child. So, it's all good.

In order for this to work, it has to be low maintenance. No excessive all out purging at year's end, etc. Only adding NOT taking away!! I will do some purging though. Stay tuned for those details.

Non-FIAR units- here I will store items that go with unit studies that I am writing or using from homeschool share. Ideas, articles, craft ideas, resources, etc for the unit will go in here until they are used or put together. The beauty of homeschooling is tailoring the program to suit your students needs and while FIAR is a huge success with our family, I do recognize that there are interests not addressed that we can do on our own like EXPLORATION. (stay tuned for a sneak peak on our explorers unit)

FIAR Review- review ideas, story disks, passports, etc to help the kids to go over the places they've been and the things they've discovered. Our "Are you Smarter than a Homeschooler" Game will go behind that folder.

World Geography- maps and activities on world geography that can be used with lots of FIAR units

So, the above picture is the mostly finished project. A couple things to note as I leave you to think about this system:

  • I prefer to think of my file as a current school year edition. So, I'm not apt to label millions of folders with all the book names on them to have on hand. I will make them as I go and my files will expand. Last year's files are in a different box. I did book titles only last year. Any book we didn't do that I want to do this year has been transferred over along with the review folder.
  • All titles already in folders that are not for this year are in another file box- storage location to be determined...(no comments Dan!)
  • Small Purge will occur on the coop folders, homeschool admin (will get a whole new folder each year), and the book titles and other unit folders will be culled and stored elsewhere if will not be in the current year's IHIP.
I think that's it! This box is in my desk area on a set of drawers and right near my desk apprentice. My hope is to easily keep my homeschool paperwork up to date and in hardcopy to store and to make sure papers and ideas can be stored for later use efficiently. I hope to reduce the rushing around that goes with seeing an idea and tabling it only to go back and retrieve it sometimes as late as the morning of or even during a lesson. I do not recommend that latter method. It only creates chaos.

For those wondering what our FIAR and non FIAR units will be this year...come back because I will be listing those out shortly!

Let me know what you think...leave a comment! Happy homeschool organizing!!


Anonymous said...

Well I get to be the first to say it's fantastic!!! I ike that it's not overly detailed (as Dawn's with weekly folders) and it since it's not weekly you could use the same folders next year instead of starting over completely. You've given me mush to think about :) Holly

Jen said...

Awesome! This is kind of along the lines of how I am thinking...if I can ever figure out what I'm doing--at least for the fall! Jay has an old file crate in the garage I think I'm going to bogart, and if he'll just switch the printers I'll be on my way!

Jennifer said...

Heather -

Well done!! Guess mine is similar, just split between my homemade FIAR planner and Longanberger basket (spent way to much $$ on so I better be using it file basket).

Jennifer (in VA if you need the FIAR screen name)

km said...

This is great. I'm only in my 2nd year homeschooling, but this year I'll have 2 students. I was worried about the overwhelming nature of paper in our house. I've labeled folders with each of our FIAR books. I hope this works. Seeing your list, I should probably add a few.

Jimmie said...

I love organizing and staying that way! This is GREAT! :-)

Rachel said...

This is great! I think I would like to do this but I'm not sure I have the room nor am that organized right now to get it all done.
What do you use your label maker for? It would be a handy tool for this project but I'm not sure I can justify buying it for just this.

Heather said...

Are you kidding Rachel? What don't I label??

Boxes for toys on our shelves

things in my secret lair

boxes for toys in the kids closets and under their beds

spices in the kitchen

If things sit still for too long here, they get labeled!!