FREE Homeschool File Folder Charts
How to Make File Folder Charts for the
To my homeschooling friends:
For those of us who are committing to teach our children, we’re all in our last remaining days of summer . . . and our final chance to prepare for a new school year. (Although one thing I always keep in mind is that I don’t need to prepare for the whole year at once . . . I just need to stay a day or two ahead of where we’re going!!!)
Here in our household we’re gearing-up for a super year . . . with hopes and feelings of expectation that this year may be our best homeschooling year ever! And I’m really excited about it!!!
For those who will be utilizing the Teaching With God’s Heart for the World curriculum, I wanted to share a specific teaching tool that has really helped our family.
Kids Keep Focused, Diligent, and On-Task
One of my biggest continual challenges with homeschooling life . . . is that we have continually have LIFE going on!!!
There are many people who give homeschooling a “try” for a year or too; but sometimes, despite the best of intentions, many homeschooling parents realize the commitment is simply “not working” on a consistent basis. I’ve heard many homeschooling moms share genuine feelings of concern and inadequacies, feeling that they’re “cheating” their children of consistent instruction (because these moms know what’s “really” been happening at home). A homeschooling parent may attempt to stay consistent with his or her teaching plans . . . but sometimes their best efforts can lead to burn-out . . . or quitting . . . or too much stress on the family . . . or maybe “persevering” in the decision, whether or not the kids not getting the education they need.
Let’s face it.
There are times when our best intentions and wonderful “teaching plans” are interrrupted. How can our children’s home education continue . . . even if we get an urgent phone call, or if there’s a little one who needs immediate attention, or if our husband has a specific job he needs us to do, or if we have a time in our lives when God is focusing our passions in other areas?
I love teaching and training our children . . . but I also know how my personality works (and I’ve come to recognize my weaknesses).
I tend to focus my thoughts and attention in concentrated whole-hearted “spurts.” I get extremely passionate about things (whether that’s life, or a hurting family, or rescuing orphans, or helping with a specific project at church, or writing a ministry newsletter, or meeting a book deadline) . . . and that focus can be good . . . but it can also be very distracting to our homeschooling.
Despite this, I’ve come to “rest” in the fact (for our family) that homeschooling is God’s will and His purpose for our lives. For us, it has been tremendously successful, both educationally and spiritually for our “big” kids; yet even so, I still deal with inward questioning and times discouragement. We’re now in our 18th year of this journey, and we believe we’re called to continue homeschooling our children . . . for the long-haul. And day-by-day, we continue to rely on God’s grace to follow Him.
When I feel like throwing-in-the-towel if things aren’t working, I simply know that I need to seek the Lord for help and wisdom. If God has truly called us to homeschool (which for us, I believe He has) He will show us the way.
In the forward to my new book, The Mission-Minded Family, I really appreciate what longtime homeschooling pioneers and ministers, Greg & Sono Harris, wrote. They said:
“God is too good and too wise to give us conflicting obligations. Every obligation from God is perfectly compatible with every other obligation that comes from God. Not only are our obligations to family and missions compatible, they are mutually supportive in His purposes.”
For me personally, my biggest homeschooling need is how to keep my children working and independently motivated, especially when other things are happening. I know that I need an on-going “structure” that is well planned, yet also completely flexible (even at the last minute) to flow with our family’s life and with the needs of our missions work and ministry.
In the midst of really praying about this, I woke up one morning with a “picture” in my mind of this little weekly “To-Do” Chart.
I spent a full day figuring-out an ideal homeschooling week for my kids . . . and then broke it down into sixty 20-minute sections. Our family usually does only about 4 full hours of homeschooling each day (not counting daily athletic training, extra reading, art projects . . . and all that other “real-life-learning” that takes place all the time). I love keeping the big picture and vision in mind (of where we’re going), and at the same time, I know that my kids need concentrated education in reading, writing, language arts, history, math, science, geography, and Bible training . . . to get ready for God’s purpose.
I’ve come to realize that (in reality) I can usually only “consistently” devote about an hour or two of actual “Homeschool Teaching Time” with my kids each day (some days are better and I really “pour my heart” into our homeschooling . . . but other days are really full, and I can’t even do that. So for us to homeschool, my husband and I need to know, that no matter what, our kids will be self-disciplined and successfully progressing on their studies).
Okay. So let me show you how our “how-to” chart works:
Last year, our charts were made with simple hand-written cards; but this year, I wanted to make sure that our weekly and daily plans would fit with the Teaching With God’s Heart for the World curriculum.
So I created some pdf files (which you can print out for FREE here) with these sixty 20 minute learning goals.
We cut-out these printed cards I made and then taped them to colored pieces of construction paper (rectangle pieces – 1.5 inches x 2.5 inches) with clear packing tape to keep the cards sturdy.
For each child, we used: 15 red cards (for spiritual training), 11 yellow cards (for math), 5 orange cards (for science), 14 blue cards (for language arts), 15 green cards (for social studies).
And the kids have been helping make these cards, and their individual files. This feminine-looking file folder is Caela’s (age 10). Mark (age 12) and Philip (age 7) have identical cards, but their file folders are black-and-green and black-and-blue with cool-looking masculine checkers. The whole project only costs about $1 per folder . . . and a little bit of time (but it saves SOOOO much time later on!!!).
How to make the folders:
We take a sturdy file folder, and cut-up the pockets to make new 9 new pockets: four little square pockets (on the left side) to hold the entire week’s schedule in main categories, four long pockets (on the right side) for each child kid to “lay out” his or her daily goals, and one long pocket (on the bottom-left) to place each card after the assignment has been completed. We use packing tape to hold them on.
(By the way, I found it helps to put about 15 cards in each square-category pocket before taping it on, to make sure the cards “fit.”) The daily “hour” pockets can be totally flat.
Our four main categories are:
- God is #1 (Prayer, Devotions, and Bible)
- Math and Science (“Teaching Time” and “By Myself”)
- English (Literature, Grammar, and Writing)
- Social Studies (History, Geography, World Missions, Music, and many international cultural ideas to keep things fun!!!)
So, here’s an example of how one of the kids can “lay-out” a day. They need to include 3 cards from each category each day, but they plan their own schedule (which teaches self-motivation). And I can make sure that the areas which require my “Teaching Time” can be arranged (and adjusted at a moment’s notice) to adapt to my schedule. I usually prefer to keep my “Teaching Time” during the 2nd hour (for one-on-one teaching, like math and grammar) and 3rd hour (for all-together family teaching, like devotions or history).
A huge benefit of this system is I know that if I can’t get to a “Teaching Time” on a paticular day, I simply tell the kids to rotate those cards back into the category pockets and to replace with with their “By Myself” cards. We know we’ll get back to those “Teaching-Time” cards before the week is over.
While the kids are working on the “By Myself” cards, I can be working on things I need to do, such as laundry, or household jobs, or getting lunch together, or working on ministry office jobs. I’m still available for questions, but the kids know that they need (as much as possible) to keep working as hard as they can on their own.
As each one completes a 20 minute assignment (and we continually use a kitchen timer to keep everyone working diligently), they transfer that particular card to their “DONE!!!” pocket.
These cards will then remain in this “DONE!!!” pocket until the following week.
For our family, this little homeschooling tool has really helped; and I believe it will really work well with this particular curriculum. I wrote Teaching With God’s Heart for the World many years ago; and since that time our homeschooling (and ministry) has adapted and changed, and I believe it’s also “matured” and become more relaxed and fruitful.
I think this change will help make this year-long curriculum more practical, easier-to-follow, and more of a blessing for the dynamics of your family-life.
Hope this will be a blessing to you!
(And I hope you and your family will ENJOY these last few days of summer!!!)
In His Love,