Paperwork – Is There A Secretary in the House?
- Wednesday, December 08, 2004
If homeschooling had been as trendy in Ancient Egypt as it is today, I can tell you exactly what would've covered mom's desk – papyrus. Mounds and mounds of papyrus.
Somehow, the thought of exotic papyrus scrolls is much more desirable than what might be covering your own desk – paperwork. Piles and piles of paperwork. Urgent piles, important piles, correction piles, and file piles.
Staring at reams of homeschool-related paperwork used to leave me feeling as helpless as being up the Nile without a paddle. Helpless and hopeless, because the stacks grew taller every day. Something had to be done to stop this never-ending plague.
I started in little ways, like keeping only a representative sample of each child's work. Instead of saving every daily math assignment, I kept one for every ten lessons. I'd set aside every fifth test rather than all of them. I'd keep only the finished report, not the brainstorming notes, research cards and rough draft.
What did I do with all the work I didn't save? I threw it away. That's right, it went into the recycle bin. I'm giving you permission to ruthlessly weed through your little darling's labor and get rid of it. Sure it's cute, and yes, it took them a lot of time and effort, but once it's been duly corrected and recorded, toss it. Believe me, your children will thank you one day when they don't have to sort through boxes of their own long-hand division from fifth grade, or cartons of old phonics workbooks.
Put those samples into a three-ring binder for each school year. Limit yourself to keep only what will fit into the binder. If a project is too large, snap a photo of it and archive it that way. Label the binder with the student's name, grade, and picture. Now you've got a nice memory to store that uses two-thirds less space than what you began with.
This is assuming you've already gotten the work corrected, but what if you don't? What if you have a veritable pyramid of uncorrected pages?
There's no getting around it. As long as you have students, you will have papers being handed in. However, it doesn't have to heap in an unsightly pile with dog-eared corners and ripped notebook edges.
Get a basket. It is more pleasant for the eye to rest on a pretty basket than a stack of work to be graded. This small, psychological trick reduces clutter and lessens stress. You don't have to spend a lot or go for name-brands. Goodwill or other thrift stores carry beautiful baskets at an affordable price.
But, even a Longaberger creation won't fulfill its purpose if it overflows. When keeping up with corrections seems like Pharaoh's curse, how about sharing the load? Most students are more than eager to correct their sibling's work. Don't rule out spouses or grandparents either. This is a great way for them to work around their schedules and still be part of the homeschooling adventure.
Even with the advent of the technological age, paperwork will continue to be as abundant as tsetse flies. It's up to you to master it in creative ways, and don't forget to share those ideas with other homeschoolers. We all need to see a little white space on our desks for our own sanity, and for a place to set the boatload of curriculum catalogs the mailman just delivered!
Michelle Griep has four children and wears her stay-at-home-mom badge with pride. She's homeschooled for the past thirteen years and in her spare time (as if) is a freelance author. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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