11 Steps to Organize Digital Homeschool and Education Files

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Last Updated on June 4, 2024 by Sarah McCubbin

If you want to organize digital homeschool and education files, curriculum and freebies, you may feel like this is a daunting task. This article will show you 11 easy steps to organize your files quickly and efficiently. Save time and money by maintaining organized files!

(Disclosure: If you make a purchase through any of the links below, I may receive a commission. Thank you!)

When I first started homeschooling in 2007, digital curriculum was pretty new. I didn’t know anything about it for several years. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to use it. But of course, I started finding some interesting items and I started downloading them. I had these files all over my computer. Some were on the desktop. Some were in my documents files. Some were under a broad “Homeschool” folder and some were on CD’s and thumb drives.

This is the Best Way to Make Lapbooks!!

Using an external hard drive can be a great way to organize your education files without filling up your computer harddrive. Plus it’s portable…just take it to the next computer when you get a new one!

New to Homeschooling? Get Started Here!

It was fine for awhile until it wasn’t! When I had a handful of freebies, I didn’t really care if I could find them or not. But when I started investing real money in digital curriculum, I knew I needed to get organized. After all, part of the reason to buy digital curriculum is to be able to use it with multiple children. And I knew that if I didn’t organize it, I wouldn’t be able to find it.

organize digital homeschool files

Step 1: Create a Google Doc With a Table of Your Planned Files

Before you even begin to organize your files. You should create a map of the way you plan to organize your folders. I would suggest that you map out your high-level folders. I’ll call them level one and some of the most obvious folders for level two the subfolders that would go inside the level 1 folder. Level one folders might be things like your subjects that all the other curriculum or freebies you get would go under so you might have a folder that is labeled art or math or language arts or science.

If you’d like to get the map & checklist I used for my folders, I have it here at this link. You can make a copy of the Google doc and modify it to include the subjects or subcategories that you would like for your folders.

Step 2: Choose Your File System

Next, you need to decide where you will organize digital homeschool folders. Are you going to organize all your curriculum on your hard drive or will you use a cloud of some form like OneDrive. While a cloud might be ideal, they usually limit the amount of free space. I personally have a 3 TB hard drive that I use for my homeschool files, pictures and everything else. I do try to back things up on a cloud that are the most important but I don’t have everything backed up there.

Once you’ve decided what you will use, you are ready for step three.

Step 3: Set Up Your Empty Files On Your Drive

The next step is to go ahead and use that Categories Map you had from Step One to create your folders that you will use to store your files in. These folders are going to be empty. You going to go ahead and set up the Level One folders at least and then some Level Two ones so that when you start moving curriculum you will have a place to put them. You can further organize them after they are in those high level categories, but it will at least give you a place to begin sorting.

organize digital homeschool files

Step 4. Make a List of Where All Your Files Are Currently

Next, you’ll want to make a list of where all your folders are currently.

You Can use this Free Checklist to help you!

The places where you might have them include:

  • Your hard drive
  • The cloud
  • CDs
  • Thumb drives
  • External drives
  • other computers
  • And it’s possible that you may not have even downloaded it yet. Make a list of those places if you haven’t downloaded the curriculum you bought.

Step 5: Choose One Location to Work on At a Time

Look at the list of places where you have your files. You will want to choose one place at a time to work. So if you have thumb drives, for example, you’ll want to choose a thumb drive and find the files that are homeschool or curriculum related and move those over to your new organizational folders.

Step 6: Use the Search Function to Find & Move Files in a Broad Category

In that place, you will want to find your homeschool and education files and move them to the new Homeschool File you have created. I would suggest moving them to the Level 1 category where they fit best. Move all the science files to the science folder and all the math to the math folder.

organize digital homeschool files

Finding Files on Large Disorganized Drives

If you are moving folders from a large drive where the files might be very disorganized and you don’t know where they are, then I would suggest using the search function to search folders or files by keywords.

For example, I might search my documents for any homeschool-related words. Those words might be biology or language arts or math or algebra etc Or any words that you know that you have curriculum out there, but you just don’t know where they are.

Using this technique, I have found folders where there are other homeschool files that I have forgotten about!

So you could search your whole computer or you could search individual folders or sections of your computer to find files. Then once you have found them, you can select multiple files at a time and copy those over to your new organizational system on your hard drive or OneDrive.

Step 7: Test Files You Have Moved

Once you have moved your files to the new location, I would suggest going through a few of them to make sure that the files transferred correctly. I don’t know that you have to go through every single one, but you want to make sure that you actually copied the file and not just a path. Because the next step will make it impossible to get those files again..

Step 8: Delete Files From Original Location Once They Are Moved & Tested

After you have moved or copied your files, and tested them in their new location, you will want to go back to the original location and delete the files.

This process serves two purposes. First, it organizes your homeschool files and second it helps declutter the places where those files don’t need to be anymore. If you leave the files in the old places, it will be hard for you to use your new system because it may be easier to default to the old way of finding things.

Step 9: Repeat Step 5-8 for Every Location You Are Storing Files

Now you will want to repeat steps five to eight for every location where you’re storing files. Once you have cleaned off your thumb drives then maybe you move on to your CDs. Or maybe you have some files in the cloud. You will want to move through each storage place to consolidate all your files in the one location you have chosen.

Step 10: Sort Level 1 Files Into Smaller Sub-File Categories

Once you have moved your files from all your separate places into your new storage system, you will want to sort your files into smaller categories. For example, if you moved all your curriculum and freebies that were science related into the science folder, you may now want to break those down into separate categories that are things like biology, chemistry, physics or even lap books or preschool or elementary. Whatever categories work for you is fine, but you will want to use something that serves you well long-term.

If you would like to look at my categories, be sure to get the FREE Homeschool Categories & Checklist

Step 11: Maintain Your System By Adding New Files to It As They Come

Once you have your system in place and your file sorted, you will want to maintain your system by continuing to place new files in it as they come in. I have found that when I buy things like large bundles which are a great deal that it can be overwhelming because you get so many new products at a time that might not be relevant right this minute.

So what I like to do in those cases is bring the whole bundle in as it’s own level 1 category. Then I go through the bundle and sort out the different subject material that are in there. I might pull out the math and the science and the language arts on and on and then I will sort those even further into the folders in each of those categories.

Organize Digital Homeschool Files to Save Time!

It can feel overwhelming when you sit down to organize your files. But keep in mind…you don’t need to do it in one sitting! The time spent organizing will easily be reclaimed.

Organizing Digital files will also save you money because you will be able to see what you have easily before you buy something new. And if you buy a resource, it will be at your fingertips to use for your other children.

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