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Organization IdeaThe grades are done. The end-of-the-year parties are scratched off the calendar! And now you’re left with a pile of stuff to pack up. Great.

But you’re not far from trading in binders and pencil stubs for beach balls and flip flops. Follow these six steps to get it done and move on with summer fun.

Step 1: Pull everything out.

Spread everything out in one place. It’ll look like a disaster. (There’s really no way around that.) But don’t get discouraged! Since the point is to throw it all out where you can see it, it gets worse before it gets better.

Step 2: Put everything in two piles.

Throw out ragged binders, dried-out pens, torn page protectors, etc.

Put reusable materials and especially significant or sentimental work/projects/art in one pile—the best stuff. Only include what you absolutely want to save or can use in an upcoming year.

Leave everything else in a second pile that will shrink in the next couple steps.

Step 3: Save memories and space.

Some projects and crafts are easy to store. But those bulky ones? What do you do with those? Save the memories—and still preserve your space—by taking photos.

Group art projects, science projects, etc., by child if they aren’t already. Then take a photo (or several) of each child’s work. Print them out to store in your portfolio (the next step), or add them to a folder on your computer or in your online storage.

If you have a little more space, here’s a way to keep more than photos: have each child pick his favorite bulky project to save. You probably don’t have room for all of them, but you may have room for one favorite a year.

Step 4: Make a portfolio.

If you’re already making one to meet your state’s homeschooling requirements, you’re ahead of the game! If not, you’d be surprised how little time it takes once you start. Anyone can make one, and the best time to start is right now, with everything all over your living room floor.

You can use an accordion file or file folder, but the most popular choice is 3-ring binders with divider tabs for each subject (plus one for extracurriculars) and page protectors for any work that can’t be hole-punched.

What should you put in it?

Start with work from your “important” pile in step one. Include lists of curriculum used and books read, art (or pictures of art), pictures/mementos from extracurriculars, and pictures/things learned from field trips.

From your second pile, try the rule of 3’s: have each child pick their three favorite pieces of work from each subject.

For more on creating portfolios, see How to Put Together a Homeschool Portfolio.

Step 5: Donate books.

If you have several children, you’ll most likely be able to get a few uses out of your textbooks. But if you’ve got books that have already made the rounds, consider donating them before trashing them.

Don’t forget to go through your at-home library. Those books that haven’t been touched for months, the ones that just sit on your shelf? Donate those, too. It’s hard to let go of books, but think of it this way: you’re making space for more.

Step 6: Finish up & get ready for next year.

Do you have anything left from your second pile? Do yourself a favor and toss it.

Now that you’re left with only the best of the best, you’re almost through! Decide how you want to store everything—plastic tubs in the attic, a special bin for each child, or cabinets set aside just for school work.

When that’s out of the way, you can move on to the final step. Getting ready for next year now will keep your momentum going and make it easier to start next year. That’s always a plus, right?

Put crayons, colored pencils, paper clips, and other small things in labeled boxes. If you have any diaper-wipe tubs, those are the perfect size.

You may not have many textbooks or other school supplies, but put them in order so when you get your new textbooks and supplies, you’ll be ready to go. (For more ideas on organizing your homeschool space, take a look at Organization Tips for Your Homeschool Space.

You did it! That’s a wrap on your school year and a green light on your summer vacation—not to mention a cleaner living room floor.