Climb, climb up paper mountain.
Reaches to the sky.
Climb, climb up paper mountain.
We knew the stack was high.
Toss, toss the excess papers
Full recycling bin – oh my!
Climb, climb up paper mountain.
You and I.

In many states you have two options for year end assessments as a homeschool family.

  1. Take and report the results of an approved standardized test.
  2. Present a portfolio of work to an approved entity for review.

The first of these options requires absolutely no accumulation of paper whatsoever. So unless you love a piece for some reason – pitch it! Nothing is special if you save everything. So, pick a piece or two for a memory box if you wish or better yet take a picture of a few pieces but for goodness sakes, don’t keep it all.

Those choosing the second assessment option are usually the ones staring down paper mountain. At the time I’m writing this, the “school year” is about half way over and I bet that most of you have a serious paper mountain beginning to form. We on the other hand don’t even have a paper hill. WHAT!?! Yep, we may have a paper shovel full because it isn’t the end of the week yet; but, if the boys have been keeping up with their part of the deal, that doesn’t even exist.

How? I’m glad you asked. You see it is all about doing the thing instead of talking about doing the thing. In our first year, I let the papers stack up and kept saying that I would file them next week. After about a month, I realize that I a formidable pile that had fallen over a time or two making things even more difficult because now they weren’t in order any more. So, I ignored the pile. After a second month, the pile was enormous and I decided it was time to tackle it. You know what, it took me a whole 60 minutes. That’s right – two months of papers that had gotten all mixed up took me an hour to sort out and put into the boys’ portfolio binders. An hour is a lot of time.

So, I decided that I would teach the boys to use their portfolio binders and to file things away each time they completed an assignment. We bought two-inch binders and pocket dividers and took our beginning portfolios and put them in nicely by date and by subject. We talked about how mountains are hard to climb and how it takes a super long time to climb one if you try to do it all at once. Then we talked about how it is easier to just take it bit by bit. Our family likes to hike so this analogy made sense. They knew that to try to hike straight up a mountain was hard and took a long time and that taking it bit by bit was by far less difficult. You may have to describe it differently if mountains are a foreign idea in your house but you could compare it to eating an elephant or some other giant task.

Now, keeping up our portfolio it takes about 30 seconds – yes, 30 seconds tops – that’s about 11 minutes a month if you add all the time up. If I had done it from the beginning, I would have saved myself 40 minutes in those two months. You know what I could do with an extra 40 minutes!!! Can you imagine how much time and stress it saves me over the course of a whole school year? I have friends that try to put their portfolios together at the very end of the year and each one of them would tell you that it is a stressful few days – that’s right DAYS.

You may be saying, “But Kandis, I have a kindergartener. There is no way she can put things in a binder by herself.” Okay, I’ll give you that. I have one too. I do his and I don’t use a binder. Since, he doesn’t have a huge amount of written work, we actually use an expanding file for him. It allows him to have some ownership as he is capable of helping me file his things away at the end of each of our days. We don’t sort his by subject as everything kind of ties together. One simple expanding file works out great.

“If it works so well, why don’t you use an expanding file for everyone?” Well, honestly, it is because I want to be kind to the teacher that is going to do our assessing. As someone who has a teaching license and has done a fair share of portfolio reviews, portfolios that are put in strictly by date are more difficult to go through and determine progress than those that are sorted by date and subject. Date and subject sorting allows the assessor to go through and see progress over each subject without trying to flip around and find comparison pieces.

However you choose to tackle paper mountain, DO IT NOW!!! Don’t wait. Don’t put it off until tomorrow. Keep it smart. Keep it simple. Get it done.