What Do I Do With All This "Stuff"?
It’s almost the end of another school year—or maybe it’s your first!—and it’s time to think about how to wrap it up. What to keep, what to pitch, what to turn in. . . decisions, decisions!
Dealing With the Red Tape
In New York, we have to submit records to our local superintendent’s office. This includes the 4th-quarter grades for each subject, and by now an assessment, whether it be an achievement test result or a peer panel review, showing the child learned “a year’s worth of information within a year.”
Requirements stretch from the highly regulated states that require test results, to portfolios (such as Pennsylvania), to no requirements at all.
Some states only request assessments after certain grades. Make sure you are familiar with what your state requires and gather the necessary materials to submit. Wondering what your state requires? Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) can link you to your state for more info on homeschool laws.
Storing Your School Projects & Papers
The next question is what to do with all the projects. How to organize school work and projects can be tricky!
There are a variety of organizational methods to store children’s school work. Some are easy to store, such as lap books. They tend to bring a child joy, and I’m often hearing of children who pull them out at a later time to sift through, observing their previous work. This is a great remedial activity, whether they realize it or not!
But what about the bigger projects? Well, if some crafts are worthy of gift-giving, that is something to consider.
In some of our Time Travelers, we have very unique projects that make beautiful, usable gifts when completed, such as the penny rug or decoupage ornament (from our Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression study), or the floor cloth table mat or dipped candle (from our The American Revolution study). Several of our Project Passports also have unique, 3-D projects that could make for wonderful gifts!
Along with giving away items, consider what you may want to keep. Anything with memories attached, you might find priceless in the future when your little ones are grown and gone. . . (speaking from experience, here!)
You may want to start a Mother’s Memories box for some of the items. When your children are grown and are focused on looking ahead to their lives, these things may not mean that much to them, and they might be quick to discard them. To “Mother-Teacher,” however, they mean the world! You can always throw away, but you can never get them back easily. Choose wisely!
You can simply decorate a box with a lid for collecting projects to keep (better yet, have your children decorate it!), or you can create a more organized file of folders, like the one shown in this video:
If your projects are considered “dress-up” worthy, you may want to create a dress-up box to hold the creative clothing — if you don’t have one already.
There is nothing more motivating for a child than dressing the part of a character of another era. Dress-up can stimulate play reenacting of what they’ve learned or creating scenes of their own that are fitting to the era. What child dressed in colonial clothes wouldn’t squeal with delight at the thought of making a homemade loaf of bread and shaking cream into butter to accompany it, in order to serve it to dad at the dinner table?
Mom the Photographer
At this point, you’re probably thinking, “I get all that, but what about the dioramas, and the posters, and the 3-D big stuff?”
It may be hard to let those things go for your young one, but I’m guessing mom may want her shelf space back! . . .at least until next year’s projects occupy them!
There is a solution that should keep everyone happy. Take lots of photos! Have your child hold each project so you can capture their age when they made it.
Have him write a little snippet explaining:
- What the project is.
- How it was used.
- What topic he was studying when he made it.
Then add the photos and descriptions to a notebook, whether a binder, a 3-prong folder, or a scrapbook. If he had a student notebook on the subject that he was planning to keep, add it to that.
You will have a record of what he made but still regain your space back. Everybody’s happy!
Then there are the workbooks, notebooks, and a myriad of papers and reports. Sift through and collect a good variety of work you would like to keep. Perhaps your child sunk a lot of time and effort into a report or a creative writing. You may want to keep samples of his or her best handwriting to compare with future years!
What About Actual Artwork?
If the work is extra special, beyond a 3-ring binder or scrapbook, and if you are not planning on framing the work, you may want to invest in a real portfolio. Be advised, they can be quite expensive, but if your child has a talent in the arts and wishes to pursue it, having the work stored in a portfolio will protect the work.
You can also resort to the previous suggestion and capture it digitally on the computer. This time, though, consider making it a bit fancier. Create a rotating montage of her artwork via a slideshow. There are several popular and free ways to do that online. This also allows you to share the link with family and friends who might be interested in viewing the child’s work!
Again, if you live in states with strict rules, you will want to box up the primary work and store it for at least a few years, just in case you need it.
Once you’ve got your reports in, your projects stored, and your photos taken, it’s finally time to clean out the desks, throw away the scraps, and clear the way for a fresh, new school year! . . .And celebrate! You’ve made it through another year! (You, too, mom!)