Tips for Homeschooling Mamas

How to Create a Homeschool Master Binder

I’m not the most organized person. In fact, I’m one of those people who has no set system, a little messy at times, yet can put my hands on something fairly quickly. My kids school papers are all over the place (one has even graduated), and I don’t claim to “have it together”, because I absolutely do not. BUT, when I discover something that has consistently worked, and I feel better about myself for doing it, I want to tell the world! (Or anyone who will listen to me making a big deal about it.) What am I talking about? A Master Binder, of course!

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It’s a hybrid! Watch the video, or read the blog post.

Master Binder – The Big 3

I like simple and practical, or else I’ll never use it, just collect it. There are three things (a prerequisite that I just made up), that I strive to stick to for items in our homeschool, or things that enter our home for that matter.

It must be uncomplicated, suit my needs, and be pretty.

The Binder – I like the heavy duty ones with a front pocket, and possibly a pocket or two on the inside. It needs to last!

Sheet Protectors – there’s some important stuff in there, so I protect it!

Dividers, or some kind of binder folder with pockets and holes.

I place a title page in the pocket on the front, complete with school name and mascot. A mascot or logo sounds kind of silly, but we’ve had one for years. We’re the Stingrays. I actually put some thought into it years ago, but I’ll save that story for another time.

Our state of North Carolina has just a few requirements of things to keep on hand: disease immunization chart, annual attendance records for each student, and we also have to keep the results from our annual standardized achievement tests for at least one year.

Inside the Master Binder

The Master Binder is not a lesson planner, which I use daily. The Master Binder is used for administrative papers, as well as other things I may only use annually or seasonally. It’s good to have all that stuff together when you need it! Here’s what’s inside of mine:

  • The official homeschool registration record – issued to me by the NCDNPE.
  • Community college info that my son is enrolled in.
  • Our academic school year calendar. I printed off a free one from LovelyPlanner.com.
  • The local public school calendar. So I know when not to plan a field trip or vacation.
  • Attendance record. I use the one provided by the NCDNPE.
  • Curriculum/Supplies shopping list. You can find these in my Free Resource Library.
  • Class schedule (if you have one). It took me years, but I finally got something that worked well for our family. Now that my son is in 12th grade, I just give him his assignments, and he creates his own schedule.
  • Printables I have made. These include things like a lunch crate loop, end of year evaluation, vocabulary games, banish the blahs ideas, road trip games, noticing nature checklist. They can be used anytime during the year, and are all available in my Free Resource Library!
  • National Day/Notable Birthday Lists – I made these a couple of years ago, and refer to them often. They’re also in the Free Resource Library!
  • I keep homemaking/housekeeping printables in the back for myself.

I also have a 6 pocket binder folder that holds answer keys. The other pockets are labeled fall, winter, spring, summer. I use these for printables, unit studies, future field trip brochures, or ideas for that particular season. The extra pocket is of course a miscellaneous pocket. People like me must have a miscellaneous pocket or file! (And it’s usually full!)

Not in the Master Binder

You may have noticed I did not include a grade book, reading lists and logs, field trips we go on, volunteer work, or that sort of thing. That’s because I’ve been using HomeschoolMinder for years. I love it, and the platform passes my three prerequisites of being uncomplicated, meets my needs, and is pretty. Really, the reports this program can print out are both professional & pretty!

Master of the Master Binder

If you are just starting your homeschool journey, I highly recommend going ahead and getting things together from the start! (Take it from me!) If you are late to get on the organization bus, you’re not really late. It’s easy to put one of these together in under an hour! Customize it to fit the needs in YOUR homeschool, YOU are the master after all!

For scheduling tips/chaos control, check out this post. It contains several ideas that may help your homeschool! Also, grab those free printables! Keep those plates spinning, homeschool mom or dad – you’ve got this!

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