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Papers, Papers, and More Papers

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Is there anything more frustrating to deal with when it comes to controlling paper than clutter? I would say that there is not. In my case, I would also say that papers seem to multiply in my home! It’s pure craziness some days!

homeschool papers

One of the advantages of sending your kids to school, at least I would imagine, is not having to deal with all the papers that doing all the school at home creates. I have often said that it seems as though the most time consuming part of homeschooling is not the planning and it’s not even the teaching, it’s the grading and the filing of everything.

As I stated in my homeschooling series, I live in a state where I am not required to save anything, but I still do. It’s just my own paranoia, but I just want to be able to prove that we do something during the day. The amount of papers that populate around the house is astounding, really.

The easiest system I have come up with is doing things in various stages.  Here’s what that looks like in my home.  IMG_3107

  1. When kids complete something that needs to be graded, it goes in a hanging magazine holder that I mounted to the wall. I got this one that has three different spots from IKEA. If I see papers in here, I know they are to be graded.
  2. From here once the papers are graded they go into a hanging file folder in my filing cabinet. This is kind of the holding zone before they get moved to the next spot. Each kid has their own folder.
  3. The final area they move to is to a three inch binder. Each student has their own, and this is where things are permanently kept.

If my kids have things that I don’t grade (for me this is things like worksheets, study sheets, and chapter check ups and things that are done for study purposes) then they keep track of their own papers in their own folders or binders. They are in charge of these. They can use them and then throw them out, or they can throw them out right after they do them if they want, but the key here is that they don’t end up in any one of my areas.

When it comes to grading, I have tried it every which way you can think of, and the following are the things I have found to work best for me.

  1. The first tip is to enlist the help of others. Whether your husband or older kids who can help with grading younger kids’ things, don’t feel like you have to do it all if you really don’t. Examine this carefully. Sometimes you may even have grandparents who are able to help
  2. I find if you let it pile up, it will, and then it will multiply. For this reason, I have made a point on grading papers from that day on that day and on that day only. No matter what else I may have going on at night, I force myself to grade the papers from the day every single night. Period.
  3. Don’t feel like you have to keep absolutely everything. I do keep most things, but there is no use in saving things that you are going to turn around in a year and decide you can toss. Examine every paper carefully and ask yourself if there really is a reason for keeping it. For example, I no longer keep math worksheets. We generally have a math test every 10 lessons or so. Clearly if they can pass the test, they have done the work on the worksheets. Again, this was my decision, but it was a necessary one for me.
  4. Revisit the things you have saved periodically to see if you do still need them. Don’t be afraid to admit that you were perhaps a bit anal in keeping it and can simply do without it now. I am a recovering anal addict when it comes to school papers, I can relate if this is you.

Papers are never ending in a homeschooling household. However, you don’t have to let them overtake your home. Feel free to use my system, or find one that works better for you if you wish. The key is to establish a system that is easy enough to follow that you actually follow it, and then being consistent rather than letting things get out of hand. Any time we don’t stay on top of clutter, it can so easily be overwhelming.

Even if you don’t homeschool, I would bet that you have a ton of papers to deal with. In that case, developing a system and staying on top of things are still the keys. Try my system when each person has their own place and a specific purpose for each place.

Papers don’t have to be overwhelming, and they don’t have to take over our homes. Discover how to develop a system that works for you.

Looking for more on clutter? You may like 10 Steps to Controlling Clutter.

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