Hello Strong Mamas!
I’m not sure about y’all, but around here it is report card time. Over the years I have learned that my kids do best when I am able to keep track of their progress and areas they need to work on. I got tired of being in the Parent/Teacher Conferences and having the teacher say, “this is the same area we were working on last semester” and them looking up to see a blank stare on my face because I had no recollection of what happened at breakfast, let alone last semester. Trying to keep track of my kids’ learning careers is challenging since there are so many of them, but you know I have a system! I love this system because…
- It is simple and cheap, as all my systems must be (5 KIDS=$$$$)
- I have a reference for all areas my kids need to work on and I can refer back to it as needed (this really comes in handy when I am planning their academic supports for summer. See some of my summer planning posts here and here).
- It is portable and can be taken to all Parent/Teacher conferences, meetings, occupational therapists, tutors, intake interviews with specialists, etc. and all notes are easily accessible from the last semester/quarter.
- It acts as a filing system for all academic work, awards, materials and notes for each of my kids.
- When a child moves on to high school their section of the binder can easily be moved to a separate binder and archived.
Here it is…
I use a simple cloth binder. I like this one because it zips so none of the papers fall out. Yes it is filthy and old but it works so who cares! It bears on it the marks of having been used since 2001.
In it there are dividers for each child. My older ones no longer have tabs because they have moved on to high school. One day this whole binder will be empty. Don’t miss what’s in front of you mamas! This is a tough but precious season!
Behind each divider I keep this form I designed. It begins with reasons to praise God. I always start with this. When our kids are struggling it is so easy to forget that struggle is critical for their growth and God is in control. Praise God for all that is happening in your baby’s life, good and bad. I am including the free, downloadable form (that has been updated with no year “2014-2015” on it): mamastrong parent teacher conf form. But do me a favor, okay? If you use my intellectual property can you please have integrity and give me credit for it if someone asks you about it or you post anything while using it? Not saying you wouldn’t but you’d be surprised how much thievery there is out there. Please don’t be an anus (“anus” being the proper rendering of a much more colorful expletive also beginning with an “a“).
Following that form, I keep their report cards, awards, any work the teacher gives me, etc. It all gets hole-punched and put in the binder. My binder is now well-known at my kids’ school and some of the teachers go ahead and hole-punch the docs for me ahead of time!
The last divider is for all testing. Here I keep their standardized tests, evaluations, educational reports, etc. I wish I had a dime for every time this section has come in handy over the years!
On the side pouch I keep extra notebook paper, pens and extra Parent/Conference forms so on Conference day all I have to do is take the binder. I try to keep that day as simple as possible. There have been quite a few with many, many tears.
What’s the point of keeping all of this information? I USE IT! I plan Summer and Back to School resources based on the information I have on each child’s progress. I’ll showcase these binders when the time is right!
As mentioned earlier, when a child graduates from middle school their section gets put in a separate binder and stored. I have found this is the easiest way to file these memories. No filing cabinets, bins, etc. filled with papers. Just neat binders that go on the shelf in my office.
The last purpose of this binder is the most important. The material inside is a glimpse into my children’s minds. How they think. Their gross motor skills. Work ethic. Learning style. Physical strengths. Love of language (or not). Their interests, talents and possible purpose. This binder is not just a collection of papers but a glimpse into my children’s hearts. THESE ARE ALL PRAYER STARTERS. Many times I have gone through the pages and prayed for my kids. I have been astonished at some of the insight God has given me over the years and how He has shown me His presence in this part of their lives. This binder is important because it allows me to know my kids better. How often in the school year I get a sea of school papers from the Fab Five. It can be hard to tell in the hurry of the every day what is happening under the surface of their learning lives, and even more difficult to see the larger vision of what God is doing. But with it all in one place, with quiet time to peruse and absorb them… I am strengthened in ways to support and love them.
I am stewarding over this part of their journey.
And that is not just an organizational task… that is a privilege.
Please share this so other mamas can be helped during this busy time of year!