Recordkeeping All Year Long. {Free Homeschool Templates}

Warning: Homeschool post ahead.

I am not the most organized person. Based on my personality profile, I should be, but organization is the first thing that goes when life gets busy.

And life has been busy since approximately…2008.

However. One thing that I do stay on top of is our homeschool recordkeeping. I have several reasons for this departure from my status quo of laziness:

1. It gives me something to do to keep my impatience at bay when Ali is working on a particularly arduous worksheet. It’s either that or ferocious doodling, something in which I often also take part.

2. It helps me see how much we’ve accomplished through the day, week, and year.

3. It’s good accountability – after all, I’m accepting the responsibility of educating my child. What the crap am I thinking??

4. I can see when we get ahead. And when we get ahead, we get to take Fridays off.

When we started first grade, I couldn’t find a recordkeeping book that I liked, so I created my own on Excel. I’ve been using my template for two years now, and have continued to tweak it each week. I’ve also shared it with many people who have then edited it for their own needs, so it’s basically the Sisterhood of the Traveling Spreadsheet by now.

Free Homeschool Recordkeeping Template Downloadsclick image to download

Here’s how my highly objective system of homeschool recordkeeping works:

1. I write the work as we do it – NOT in advance. I don’t like crossing things out, and as I said, it gives me something to busy myself with while Ali actually does the work.

2. Ten “credits” counts as a second grade school day (I counted 8 credits as a school day in first grade). If we do double the work in a particular subject in one day, then it counts as 2 credits.

3. If we were especially aggressive and earned 50 or more credits by Thursday, then we get to skip school on Friday. We usually still do a little school on those days, but don’t stress about getting an entire day in.

4. Most importantly, I get to give myself a sticker for each credit earned. In rainbow order.

Free Homeschool Recordkeeping Template Downloads

Did my dedication to rainbow-order stickering fall off by the end of the year? Absolutely. But did I keep on keeping on with keeping up with my records? You bet.

Free Homeschool Recordkeeping Template Downloads

This seems like a weird time to bring up recordkeeping, what with school just getting out and all, but I do it now for a reason: I have added Summer recordkeeping this year.

Free Summer School Credit Recordkeeping Templateclick to download

In Alabama, you don’t have to be a legal homeschool student until second grade. As such, this past year was our first year to have to “count days” – i.e., school for a particular number of full school days.

We do not school all year, but the nature of our lives tends to swing toward the educational side, even in the summertime. Plus, I’ve decided to get Ali to do one lesson of math each morning during the summer to keep her brain from getting sloshy.

(Yes, that’s a verifiable school-child condition.)

Fortunately, her math curriculum came with an entire book of review sheets that we didn’t need during the school year, so we started the review book from the lesson we left off at and are going backwards. This seems weird to Ali. This seems perfectly logical to me.

BJU Math 3

By keeping up with our summer school log, we can count the things we do this summer as school days toward next school year. Not so that we can slack off next year, but so that we aren’t as stressed about getting our required 165-175 of days, and we can take off a few extra days around Christmas and other holidays.

Plus, I won’t feel guilty about the fact that I want to have a proper 1950’s summer and not start actual school until Labor Day.

Our school log will not look this busy all summer, especially since the kids are about to get a ten day break from me, but we had a busy first week…

Free Summer School Credit Recordkeeping Template

I, for one, find this extra bit of paperwork highly worthwhile – especially since by doing it, our summer can be just a little bit longer.

Click here to download the template for both sheets.

On Graduating Preschool.

IMG_5464First and Last Day of 3K

Noah is officially done with preschool, now giving him the privilege of saying that he’s done something I never did – he has gone to school outside of his home before college.

I know. Quite an accomplishment.

It was strange for me, being a parent in a world I’d never experienced, trying to learn what carpool is and how to pack a lunch box and where in the world to put all of the twenty-dozen construction paper crafts he brought home every day. But I managed to make it through the entire school year without doing the one thing I feared the most: forgetting his backpack and, therefore, his lunch.

(Because it would be the homeschool mom who would let her poor kid sit in school lunchless while the other kids with more experienced moms ate happily, snickering at the kid whose mom was clearly not “socialized” as a kid.)

But this year has been good. The experience has let him learn some independence, and more importantly, learn SOMETHING – anything at all. Because he had no interest in learning from me prior to his preschool career. Now, after ten glorious months of Miss Janey inspiring him to allow himself to be educated, the kid will actually write letters – any letters I tell him to – when I tell him to do it.

It’s like she turned him into a superhero – albeit a fashion-confused superhero.

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(Every superhero got their cape tangled up with their backpack when they were four. I’m sure of it.)

He learned how to fall hopelessly in love – it’s a shame that Miss Kelly The Art Teacher was already taken. He learned the depths and breadths of 3K Spanish, and as of last night prefers to be called “Cinco” instead of Noah.

He also learned the importance of personal space. When I told him the morning of his last day that he needed to hug his friends because he wouldn’t see them again, he quickly told me “I can’t hug my friends!”

“Why not?”

“Because Miss Janey told me to keep my hands to myself.”

He did not learn, however, how to perform in front of a group. Which became painfully obvious at the onset of their year-end recital.

While the rest of his preschool happily sang and hand-motioned their way into their parent’s hearts, Noah was cool with sticking out his tongue.

Preschool 2

And checking out the awesomeness that is the back of his own hand.

Preschool 4

And tasting his pinkies for remnants of breakfast.

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And, when the other students joyfully sang, covering his ears to block out the rising tones.

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And pretending he was talking into his secret spy phone.

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And erasing all the shiny parents from his eyes.

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And maybe, just maybe, feeling slightly morose at his own lack of participation.

Preschool 13

After the performance, the rest of his classmates congratulated each other and said tearful goodbyes to their dearest friends (okay they really just sat on the rug like they were told), but Noah found his own rug. And his own quiet place. Because he was clearly extroverted out.

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He adored school. He already misses school. But the introvert inside of him gives me hope that maybe he’ll be suited just fine to homeschooling (at least next year) after all. No crowds, no performances, just books.

The Consignment Report.

I’m a hoarder by default.

It’s not that I want to be a hoarder – I want more than anything to get rid of tons of stuff in an efficient manner and live a less cluttery life.

Well, more than anything…except for using my time to do anything but that. I always have too much going on to get around to it.

And so, the clutter builds up and builds up until it becomes a health hazard.

Such was the state of our kid’s clothing collection.

At first, I could use the excuse that we might have more offspring. But once we went through with The Vasectomy, that reason became invalid.

Then, the reason was because my sister-in-law and I had thoroughly swapped our collections (I got all her boy stuff and she got all my girl stuff), and it was going to be too much trouble to de-sort. That excuse lasted a delightfully long time. But finally, we forced ourselves to Mom Up and unsort eight years of kid’s clothes.

Then there was the decision of how best to get rid of it all. I began experimenting, very scientifically, to find the best method – combining easiness with decent return. I’ve mentioned my efforts a few times over the past six months, and I promised many of you a full report of my findings.

Besides donating my clothes, which I have done as well, there were two avenues that I actually attempted – I’m sure there are a lot more options out there, but these were the ones that seemed most reasonable to me:

1. ThredUp
2. Kids Market (Local option but you probably have one of these, too.)

Because of the timing of my initial cleanout (Kids Market only occurs twice a year), I started with ThredUp.

In short, ThredUp is a web-based consignment shop. They send you a giant shipping bag (postage pre-paid), and you send it back containing your clothes. They pay you upfront what they decide each item is worth, then they sell it on the website.

I already had a bag I’d ordered two years ago that I’d never actually used (because I don’t make time for this stuff.) Their policies are simple to follow: wash your clothes, put them in the bag, and drop it off at FedEx. They sort, throw out or donate what they don’t want, and then deposit your payment immediately into your PayPal account.

The catch is that they’re VERY particular about brand names, and those preferences sometimes change. They accept Osh Kosh but not Carters – and also not Osh Kosh’s Target brand. They accept Gap but not Old Navy, Gymboree but not Children’s Place.

I found it difficult at first to sort through the brands and figure out what they did and didn’t take, but once I got the ones I frequent memorized, it wasn’t hard. Then I realized that I could sell a lot of my clothes that didn’t fit anymore, and I got more excited. (They accept women’s and kid’s clothes and accessories – no men’s items.)

I sent a bag back holding about 20 items of mine and the kid’s old clothes, and waited excitedly. And waited. Turns out that Alabama is a seriously long way from California when shipped by the most economical shipping (which I can’t complain about since ThredUp covers the shipping.)

Finally, my bag arrived and I waited another week to see my payout. My first bag landed me $43.69. I was pretty thrilled – it wasn’t much per item, but everything I had put in that bag was stuff that neither I nor the children would ever wear again, and I had done virtually no work to prepare it to be sold, so nearly $50 upfront for clutter seemed like a good deal.

I hurriedly sent two more bags in, both of which netted about the same as the first one.

Which is when I started to get blood-thirsty.

Which was my mistake.

I went through my closet more closely, looking for stuff I probably wouldn’t wear again. And I even culled my jeans collection, something I hold very dear to my heart. I even sent them two diaper bags, after checking for their brand names, thinking that this would be the best payout yet.

But of course it was that bag that got a grumpy sorter. One who decided that all of those items that had been difficult for me to part with were worthless – two pairs of designer jeans, two expensive diaper bags, and several other really nice items.

I realized I was more attached to my stuff than I thought when I found out that these items had been thrown out or donated. I considered crying. Instead, I emailed back and forth to plead my case, and finally got escalated to a manager who approved a credit for what I said the items had been worth. It took a while and I learned my lesson: only send stuff to ThredUp that you’re not attached to. Treat it, as I did with my first three bags, as a way to get rid of clutter and make a little extra cash on the side. If you do that, you’ll be happy. If you try to start making money with ThredUp, you’ll likely get disappointed at some point.

Final Report: I sent in 5 bags, each bag containing approximately 20-30 items, and was paid a total of $301.84. Not bad at all for nearly zero work, and I will definitely do it again.

My next experiment was Kids Market. This is a local consignment monstrosity that is highly organized and well-entrenched into the Mommy Circles in which I run. I have multiple friends who volunteer to work 20 hours at this sale – JUST to get the privilege of shopping first.

Crazy. Right?

But apparently if you’re the first shopper you get to buy up all the things from the inexperienced sellers that undervalue their goods. They swear it’s worth it.

As opposed to ThredUp, you set your own prices for Kid’s Market, and you get to keep 2/3 of the selling price – which is a pretty hefty percentage. Unlike ThredUp, you get paid afterwards and only if the items sell. You can choose whether to pick up your leftovers after the sale or donate them. Since the main purpose of this adventure was to de-clutter, I chose the donate option.

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The catch is, it’s a LOT of work. I won’t rehash it since I already blogged about it here, but it involves washing, printing barcodes, pinning, grouping, writing description / color / brand / size for each item, taping, bleeding from all the pinning, and other such sorts of often painful activities. And then when you arrive to drop off your items, you have to sort them all yourself in the giant SuperCenter that is Kid’s Market.

Pro Tip: Take an energetic child with you on delivery day. Do NOT take an impatient toddler.

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My expert friends gave me pricing advice, bundling advice (they recommended bundling my clothes into outfits and sets as often as possible, even sets such as “four pairs of pajamas”), and hanging advice (do NOT pin all your clothes facing the wrong direction), and in the end I spent about 10-15 hours preparing my clothes for Kid’s Market.

Final Report: I put 167 bundles of items in the sale – I have no idea how many individual items, but it was A LOT. I priced on the high side of the recommendations, thinking that they’d at least sell on the half off days if I priced too high. Of my 167 items, only 87 sold. If everything I’d put in the sale had sold before the half off days, I had the potential earning of $796. My actual earnings were $357.67.

(And yes. I made a spreadsheet. Just for you guys. And for me. Because I live for spreadsheets.)

Kids Market

(The $59 item that sold was a baby swing, in case you’re wondering – unlike ThredUp, Kid’s Market takes all manner of baby equipment, kid’s games, video games, and more.)

As you can see, I should have priced a bunch of $6 items for perhaps $4, and maybe some $5 items for $3. But ultimately, I still cleaned out a massive load of clothes, so that does make me happy.

However, the work involved in preparing all of those clothes to depart from my house was not, in my opinion, worth the output. So I either need to get better at pricing, or just donate, take a chunky tax write-off, and be done with it all.

What are your tips for getting rid of kid’s clothes?