Are you drowning in homeschool paperwork? Don’t do it! Here are a few simple strategies to declutter those piles and keep the homeschool paperwork to a minimum. Because who has time for that?!
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Welcome to the show notes for Episode #153 of the Homeschool with Moxie Podcast!
As a former classroom teacher, now homeschooling mom of five, I love to equip and encourage other homeschooling families.
On the Homeschool with Moxie Podcast our goal is to inspire and encourage you with actionable strategies to take you from overwhelmed to confident in your homeschool adventure. Listen to interviews with amazing influencers in the homeschool world and beyond.
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How to Deal with Homeschool Paperwork Clutter
Today we’re chatting about how to keep homeschool paperwork to a minimum. So let me know if this is kind of describing your situation.
Do you have piles of home school papers to grade? Do you feel overwhelmed because your kids get done their work and then you just have this massive pile and you don’t really want to grade it, but you need to let your kids know how they did. You have to give your high schoolers some grades. Is this driving you crazy?
Or maybe you have a big old lesson plan book and you spend all weekend writing in there for every kid what math page they’re going to do on which day and then and the next week when you mess up your schedule and you know, Tuesday doesn’t go as you planned, you have to erase all that and change all the numbers and now your lesson planning is a mess.
Maybe you love Pinterest and you just get sucked down the rabbit hole of Pinterest where you can just download an amazing number of printables. So you’ve got massive numbers of printables on your computer.
You don’t really know where they all are because you’ve downloaded about 1000 since last weekend.
But then you also like print them out because they look so cute and you’ve got all of these printables so you have all that paperwork.
So does any of this sound like your home school? If it does it’s okay. But if it’s driving you crazy, I want to help you dig yourself out of this home school paperwork mess because I think if you home school you don’t need to be drowning in paperwork.
Here are my tips to keep this issue like at bare minimum – really kind of eliminate the paperwork altogether if this sounds good to you. So here are my best actionable strategies for you.
Immediate Feedback helps the homeschool paperwork
The first tip I have for you is to give your kids immediate feedback.
This is where homeschooling really shines when your kid is in a traditional classroom and there are 30 students and the teacher has to get back to everyone. This is why you do tons of worksheets, the teacher grades them, you get your grade, you see how you’re doing.
Sometimes this can be delayed for days or even weeks and you really don’t know if you grasp the concept and the teacher keeps moving on. It’s not a great way to learn. It’s not ideal at all. When you’re home schooling, you don’t need to be like a public school, your kids don’t need to do a worksheet for you to know if they understand the concept.
Now, if you are doing a worksheet, like in math, right? Math typically has worksheets or written work. It just is the way it is, but you want your kids to have immediate feedback. So have them work on their math right there and check it as they go. There’s nothing worse than a child completing an entire math page only to realize they’ve been doing the wrong thing on every equation, right? And you could have fixed it right away if you double check their work as they did the first few problems and then they’re not going to continue to make that mistake over and over again. Immediate feedback is really essential.
Now, like my high schoolers who are working on their own, they will leave their tests or whatever I need to grade on my desk and I try to get that graded within definitely within a day if I can because they need to know right away. Okay, did you understand this chemistry chapter? Are you really ready to go forward to the next one or do we need to go over some things?
Choose Curriculum That Works for Homeschooling
So that’s really important in the educational process and you can do immediate feedback when you’re home schooling. This is why we don’t do typical spelling curriculum where you study all week and you do silly Activities and silly printables all to have this test on 20 unrelated words. We actually progress just kind of really naturally and and we do immediate feedback. It’s not something where they have to wonder if they understood the spelling rule right. They know right away. And I know right away.
This is the thing when you’re home schooling, you know where your kids are at any point you don’t need tons of printables if you don’t want to use them. And so even if you do use a lot of worksheets, I would say don’t let them accumulate all week and definitely try to get them looked over and then you know kind of conference with your kids, make sure they’re on the right page and you’re on the right page and you know that they understand the material. You know that old adage – don’t expect what you aren’t willing to inspect – and this is why it’s great to stay right on top of things.
Even if you’re home schooling a whole bunch of kids, you can do this just easily by looking over their work each day and not letting it accumulate. It doesn’t take that long to check over an assignment before they move on.
So I would say if you’re drowning in piles of paperwork and you’re like I have to spend all weekend grading papers. No you don’t, you’re not a public school teacher, get out of that mindset and go ahead and look over, give immediate feedback to your kids. It’s much more valuable than waiting a week or two to get your papers back only to find out you really had no idea what you were doing.
Don’t Lesson Plan!
Alright number two. I would say if you’re drowning in lesson plan book paperwork, I would say get rid of that lesson plan book.
This is a funny thing because there are teacher lesson planning books marketed toward homeschoolers all the time. If you love it, if you love marking every little box and every little assignment your kids are going to do on 180 days of school, more power to you. But most people, this is just overwhelming.
You don’t need to do it. This is for public school teachers who have to have it planned out. They have to write the standards they’re hitting because the principal comes in and needs to see the lesson plan book on the desk and know what they’re teaching that day. This is my experience. I was a middle school teacher and our principal expected to see the lesson plans there with the standards and everything written out. This is not necessary for you as a home schooler.
I live in a state with some of the most stringent requirements for homeschoolers in the United States and even our state doesn’t require to see lesson plans. So I highly doubt your state is requiring you to fill out a lesson plan book.
Open & Go Curriculum
So go ahead and do something much simpler. Find open and go curriculum that’s made for the homeschool market where you just open it up. It’s easy to follow the instructions, it’s written for a home schooler, it’s not written for a classroom and something that you don’t need this massive teacher book as well.
Find easy to use curriculum and then you find a method that just helps your kids know what to do next. You don’t need to know what page of math they’re going to be on, on day 123 of home school, it doesn’t matter. You just do the next lesson every day. Right?
Workboxes & Trello Get Rid of Homeschool Paperwork Piles
So for the younger kids, work boxes are a great tool because they keep everything organized, all the books and the, you know, all the little things that go with each subject. So if with math you have manipulatives, you can throw them in the work box drawer along with the math worksheets. For reading you can put in the book you’re reading or handwriting, you can put in their favorite pencil. Whatever they need for each subject, you throw it in their work box drawer and it’s a visual. Your kids know, “okay when I get through all the drawers, I’m done for the day.”
As your kids get a little older and maybe they grow out of work boxes. We really love using Trello. Because my teenagers, they love getting on the computer and checking off what they need to do. They love rearranging their week, they’re totally able to do that because they’re in charge and they need to be responsible for getting everything done. So if for some reason they want to get everything moved on over to the beginning of the week and have a lighter end of the week, they can totally do that.
Simple Yearly Lesson Planning
So in this case I never lesson plan. The only thing I do is get a really good overview of the year.
So pretty soon here, February, March, April, I’m going to start mapping out next year because I need to see if I need to buy curriculum. I need to kind of start looking through my stuff, seeing what we’re going do next year and I’ll have an overview and I’ll say, “Okay, this kid is going to use this curriculum and then okay, they’re going to use this for math and this for language arts” and I start figuring it out.
But we never write out lesson plans, we never write out what they’re doing each day. We just know that these are the subjects we need to do today. Let’s just do the next thing on each one. Do you see how much easier it is when you’re not bogged down with the nitty gritty? There’s no reason to do that.
Plus you have flexibility as a home schooler. Plus you know that real life happens and you can map out your entire year only to be sick for two weeks and everything is thrown out the window at that point, right?
So if paperwork is driving you crazy, my second tip is throw out the lesson plan book. You can still have a nice little overview, you can have a chart, you can have a work box, you can do something with Trello. But make it simpler on yourself and don’t get bogged down lesson planning every weekend.
So my first tip was immediate feedback. Don’t let those piles of worksheets creep up on you.
My second tip is throw out the lesson plan book.
Strategies that are better than Worksheets
And my third tip is if you’re drowning in printables because you just think that that’s the way you have to homeschool and if you don’t love it, then figure out things that actually work better than printables.
I think I already mentioned that in public schools or a traditional classroom situation, they rely heavily on worksheets because they have to have a paper trail to show parents or to prove whether the child has done the work or not.
They have to have busywork because if they’re working with one student, everyone else can’t just be sitting there. They need something to do and they just rely on paperwork and worksheets to get the grades to show the work and to keep everyone busy for eight hours a day.
But when you’re home schooling you don’t need any of that. While I’m not saying you should never use worksheets, we definitely use them as appropriate.
Have you tried Narration?
I am saying that there are a lot of strategies that work way better than worksheets, even something as simple as narration. So why have your child fill out a book report or reading comprehension sheet or answer silly questions about a book when instead you could have them just tell you verbally and learn to put their words into a cohesive thought out loud.
Did you know this is actually the first step to be able to write well? You know, we often wonder, okay my child is in middle school and I told them to write something for me in science or history and they’re crying and they have no idea where to start.
That’s usually because we’ve never done the baby steps back in elementary school to get them to be able to put their thoughts together and to have a main idea and be able to communicate that even in a just like 2-3 sentences, right?
So if you start working on this skill when they’re in elementary school and you don’t just rely on worksheets, you say, “okay guys, we just read this chapter from history or we just read this book from the library about our science topic. What was the main point that you remember or what was the big idea or what was the most important thing or the most interesting thing? Tell me what you remember.”
Kids aren’t going to feel like they’re even doing school, but this is a skill that’s going to help them to be able to later on get their thoughts in their mind, kind of verbalize it and then start to write.
You know how kids are always paralyzed by that blank sheet of paper? Well I think it’s because a lot of times we don’t start in the younger years with those basic foundational steps of getting the main idea and thinking through it in your head before you actually start to write.
Resources to Help Declutter Homeschool Paperwork
So that’s just one example where narration is a lot more this is a lot more valuable usually than a pile of worksheets.
But there are a lot of things that work better than printables and I actually have an episode about this. So I will link to it in the show notes if you’re curious about, okay, you know if I don’t do tons of printables and worksheets, what in the world will I do in my home school?
So what do you think? Are you ready to dig out from that pile of overwhelming paperwork that you have because you’re homeschooling? It doesn’t have to be this way.
And if I’ve kind of piqued your interest and you’re wanting to find some better strategies, definitely check out the links that I’m going to put in the show notes and I hope you’ll at least implement one of these changes in your home school and see how it goes, let me know anytime.
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