I am convinced that we homeschooling mothers have no idea how much we get done unless we find a good way to document it. I, for one, can't believe how much we accomplished- especially since this was a baby year for us! I don't think I would have realized quite how productive we were if I didn't document it.
This method is not perfect, but it works for me. It's a good combination of practical, pretty, and simple. I'm not really up to making elaborate scrapbooks or notebooks- I just don't have the time, energy, or desire for it. But putting together a simple folder like these? That I can do. And I think I may just make an annual habit of it.
The first step was to make the cover pages:
(The pages I printed actually have my children's real names on them- I just switched them up so I could show them to you here.)
I used PicMonkey (free!) to make these pages. It was fun asking the kids these questions. I got a good feel for what my kids liked best about their work, which is helping me know what to make more time for next year.
I purchased inexpensive report covers and used their interview photos (printed on glossy photo paper) as their first page. Then I put in:
- a list of accomplished work
- reading lists (here are our family read alouds and Prim's independent reading list)
- work samples
- photo pages (I made these digitally since I don't scrapbook)
Everything went into page protectors before going in the folders. I didn't try to get everything into these books. I focused on getting a small sampling- just a taste of the best parts of our school year. They are representative of our year, but of course we acknowledge that learning happens all the time in ways that can't be documented.
Next year, I'll make things even more streamlined by:
- Making a photo folder on my desktop to dump pictures into throughout the year. When we get home from a field trip, I'll choose a picture or two to put in this folder. Then at the end of the year I'll have a sampling of the year all in one place. This goes for 3-D projects, too. Before getting rid of the project (because who can keep all the projects, right?), I'll snap a picture and make sure it goes into the folder.
- Sliding the kids' best work into a paper file folder throughout the year. Art projects, drawings, writing samples and other such work can be tucked into a file folder as we go through the year. Then at the end of the year I won't have to hunt down the best work of the year.
Do you have a particular way you like to document your kids' learning? I'd love to hear about it.
If you don't document your learning yet, I'd encourage you to find a way to make it happen. It doesn't have to be even this involved; bare-bones documentation is worthwhile! Trust me- you will feel so much better at the end of the year if you can look at a simple list of work-done-well.
I think it's a good idea to consider how to streamline the process before the busyness of the year gets underway. A simple plan is better than no plan at all- and if you can do a bit of organizing here and there throughout the year (by collecting work and photos as you go, for example), it will likely make your end-of-year documenting even easier.