End of the School Year: How to Make a Clean Start for Summer in 6 Steps.

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Schooooool’s out for SUMMER! Schooooool’s out for EVER! Just kidding about that second half, much to the disappointment of my rising third grader who recently asked for verification that we really (“REALLY?! MAMA ARE YOU SURE??”) needed to keep doing this school thing for nearly another decade.

“But Mama. I’ve got stuff to do.”

I hear you kiddo, but as your teacher, I’m kinda stuck in the same boat, so I’ll be enjoying our 2 month break immensely.

But first! Before we completely empty our heads of all we have learned this past year, it’s time to tackle all the stuff that helped put that knowledge there in the first place.

That's right, it's time to tackle all of our homeschooling supplies from the last year. Decide what needs to be kept, what needs to be tucked away for a sibling, what needs to be sold/donated, and what needs to find its way to the recycling bin. (And for our public and private school pals, you'll need to do the same with all of school related clutter that's gathered on your counters and in those backpacks!)

Step 1: Gather all the school stuff. Put everything in one giant pile and tackle it all at once. Papers. Projects. Books. Supplies. Yes. All. Of. It.

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I’ve got 2 more future homeschoolers in the pipeline, so it’s especially important that I end our year organized and looking toward the future. Also, there are several things we'll be continuing next year and I need to make sure all the parts and pieces are accounted for. We're moving on to the next level of RightStart Math, but all the pieces and cards and things are the bane of my existence. I love the program, but the amount of stuff is a minimalist's nightmare.

It went from scattered across a variety of baskets, 2 bins, and what was in our daily crate, to this:

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Ha ha ha...just kidding. I found more stuff.

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Fine, whatever, RightStart. You get your own damn bin. Now, please...NO MORE MATH RELATED PARAPHERNALIA.

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(Annnnnd then I remembered that I had planned to play math games to try to keep all that hard-won math in Eli's head this summer, so I had to dump this in search of the items that were at the very bottom of the container, because of course they were.)

Step 2: Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate. What worked? What didn't? Make some notes because Future You isn't going to remember what exactly it was about that one book that bugged you so much or that brilliant idea you had that one time.

We did Build Your Library Level 2 this past year and overall it was great, but there were a few things that I wish we had done differently. I spent a few minutes writing down my thoughts on the past year. What went smoothly. What we struggled with. What I never want to do/read again. What I wish we would have made more time for.

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Step 3: Label what you're keeping and put it in a designated, out-of-the-way spot. A dedicated homeschool bin is great!

In the end, minus a few of the spines we'll use for third grade and a couple of books that I'll replace with something else when the next brother is ready, here's what is left to put up into the homeschooling bin in the attic. If buslife comes to call before we get to this level of school again, I'll reevaluate what is being kept and what is going to come with us.

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I labeled all the books so that I'll know exactly what goes with what. You're welcome future homeschooling self!

Step 4: Look for ways to reuse what you've already got. It's environmentally *and* budget friendly. (Bonus tip...make future purchases with reuse and longevity in mind.)

So I love school supplies. And office supplies. Looooove. So much love that I’ve gotten office supplies as birthday presents from both my husband and friends.

But.

I had to take a really hard look at this love affair at the beginning of getting serious about going minimal. Just because it’s on sale or super clever or has that new paper smell or is a color of ink that I don’t already have 30 of...that’s no reason to buy it. I’ve committed to using up what I’ve got before buying more and making do with what we have before running to that aisle with all the pens at Target.

And in this vein, I've committed to reusing as many of our homeschool materials from one year to the next as I can. For us, this means both curriculum and supplies.

These plastic folders are an excellent example. They hold up to daily abuse better than paper folders and it was just a matter of taking out the papers and peeling off the subject label.

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(Handy hint...use freezer tape to label your books and folders. It peels off without leaving any sticky mess, but stays put until you're ready to remove it.)

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Even the pencil box got cleaned out.

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All of those dry erase markers got downgraded to the "yes, yes...you can draw on the white board, please just let Mama be for a full minute" cup. The fidgets got switched out and I made a note to myself to look for a few new ones to rotate through the year.

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I'll have to put blinders on and hit up a few back to school sales in search of some more white board markers, but that gray Paper Mate felt tip pen is what my dreams are drawn in. All the heart eyes for that one.

Step 5: Make sure you are fulfilling your state's requirements. Each state requires something different from homeschoolers, be sure to check what your particular rules are.

I sorted through all of our paperwork, keeping only a few key pieces of work that show a progression throughout the year. Then I photographed those pages and will put them in Eli's homeschool folder on Google Drive. Our state doesn't require a portfolio to be kept, but I always keep a few examples just in case and it's fun to see the difference a year can make.

Any key pieces of art can be safely stored away in each child's memory box.

Step 6: Re-evaluate. What might have seemed really important a year or two ago may seem silly to keep now.

After I went up into the attic to put the stack of "to be used in the future" books away, I came back down with this stack.

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Why was I keeping all of these filled out workbooks from Eli's kindergarten and first grade years? I tried to remember back to what my reasoning was and couldn't find any clear-cut explanation. They are all bound for the recycling bin now. Re-evaluating is a constant in this game of minimizing.

Bonus Step: Wash It! Now is an excellent time to give bookbags and lunch bags an especially thorough scrub before storing them away until next year. (Step 4 in action!)

And that's it! Break out the popsicles, turn on the sprinkler, and enjoy your summer knowing that the past school year is all put away.

Tell me in the comments, what are you doing to close out the school year?