Sunday, October 25, 2015

Comb Binder: Homeschool Organization Tool

Comb Binding, Step 2
Photo: Digitalgadget

Comb Binding--A Solution for Paper, Paper, Everywhere

One of the problems I had when I was homeschooling, and my kids have had the same problem with homeschooling their youngsters, is the sheer amount of paper that is collected. Assignment pages, tests, writing papers, artwork—it all adds up.

At the time, I kept all their papers in a folder in my desk drawer. That was an okay arrangement, but it still left me with lots of loose paper to deal with.

While I was teaching in a community college, in one of my lab classes I had the same issue with papers students were turning in. There were so many to keep track of.

Then I had an idea. In the lab, we had a comb binder. I had students gather all their papers that were to be turned in at the end of the term and bind them using the binder. This kept all their papers together, making it easer for me to find all the papers for a specific student. This particular class provided lots of handouts that students might need when they were in the workforce, so they often opted to bind those, too.

The most important part of this was the weekly journal students had to keep. It was turned in electronically, but then they printed it out and placed it in their comb bound notebook. Since a comb binder can be used to open previously bound books to add pages, this worked great. 

In a different class, I tried the same thing, but had students bind their papers only after they were graded. This gave them a resource to refer to, and made it easy to keep up with papers. As careful as I was, there was an instance of a grade not being recorded. With the comb bound notebook, all the student had to do was show me, and I added it to the gradebook. A win for both me and the student, since he didn’t have to search for the paper.
Comb Binder Machine
This is the binding machine I use.
It will do up to 250 pages.

So, I got to thinking about how it would work in a homeschool. A while back, I was helping with my son’s homeschooling efforts. I started a comb bound book for each of the kids, adding papers to it as needed. It worked great.

Another plus is that you have all their papers collected into quarterly books, or even yearly books, which makes it easy to see what you’ve done for the year. If you don’t have a comb binder, most office supply stores, such as Office Depot, will have binding service available for a minimal cost.

You can purchase covers specifically designed for comb binding, but we just used 65 lb. vellum card stock or a heavier cover stock for the front and back covers.The best part of using card stock is that it will work in your printer. You can design, or allow your kids to design, a different cover for each student so that they are easily identified. Or just use a different color cover stock paper for each student. Heavier paper is better, but your printer may refuse to print anything over 90 lb. stock. At least, my printer does.

We comb bound stuff often enough that we bought the comb binder pictured here.
Another idea is to use the binder to create your very own workbooks. These can easily be carried with you when you go to the library or go visiting, so that your students will have the papers they need to be working on. No fumbling for loose papers or trying to keep up with folders that scatter papers if they are dropped. Just create a personalized workbook for each of your students.

How to Use a Comb Binding Machine

The binder can be used for other projects, too. such as binding loose pages of your homeschool planning book, creating family cookbooks, or binding pages into a personal scrap book. I have used our binder to create all these. My husband writes Bible study books, and we comb bind those, too.

When you are binding a book, be sure to purchase the comb binding spines of the right size. These are rated by the number of pages they will hold. 

The comb binder is a great homeschool organizational tool. Have you used a comb binder in your homeschool?

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