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Seriously, does it not astound you sometimes, the amount of paper stuff -worksheets, art, newsletters, flyers, etc- that come home with your kids from school everyday?!?! I’ve often joked that my kids need their own personal assistant just to manage it all. Well, guess who actually gets to be that personal assistant? Yep, me! So, before I completely lost my mind, I developed a SUPER SIMPLE system for managing my kids paperwork, and I’m going to share my school organization tips with you!
I’m not kidding when I say I was so stressed out over the sheer amount of STUFF that was coming home with my kids everyday that it would almost have me in tears (okay a few times I may have actually cried, more like sobbed). I just couldn’t wrap my head around it all or figure out what to do with it. I mean look, this was ONE days worth last year! Plus, I ONLY have two kids. I’m in awe of those of you with even more to manage.
I knew I needed help, so I started researching school organization tips and managing paperwork and anything I could think of to help me, but everything was so complicated and color coded or expensive or just crazy! I needed a realistic solution, I needed it fast and it had to be S-I-M-P-L-E. I mean the crying as I unpacked their bags was really beginning to upset my kids.
In the end, here is what I ended up doing. It’s not fancy and I’m showing you the real world pictures, so you see it’s not a Pinterest masterpiece or something you’ll see on HGTV. But it works for us and it works well.
School Organization Tips – Managing Paper Overload Supplies:
First of all, these were the supplies I bought. You can easily find most of them at Target, Wal-mart, Dollar Stores or I’m including links to Amazon.com if you just want to order them and be done with it.
1. Stacking Paper Trays: 1 per child and then 1 extra.
4.1 Large Plastic Storage Box per child
Okay, so I had a shelf in our family room that I cleared off the top and I placed the paper trays and file box on top of and then I hung the memo board above those items. It looks like this, not particularly glam, but it gets the job done.
School Organization Tips – Paper Trays
My kids each have one tray that is specifically theirs (label it if you want) and they place ALL their school paperwork in there when they get home from school each day. They are responsible for pulling out anything that needs my attention RIGHT AWAY and placing it on top of the pile.
I try to get to their papers as soon as they place them in their trays, if possible. Worst case I deal with it right before going to bed each night. It takes me TEN MINUTES tops! So, I promise you if I can do it, you can do it and the 10 minutes, even when you are tired, is worth the investment in your sanity.
Here’s how it goes –
A. I address any “right now’ paperwork such as permission slips or other forms that need to be signed. I’ll take care of those and then put them into their “return to school” folders or directly into their backpack.
B. I basically pick up the remaining pile and walk over to the trash. I will throw out anything that is obviously not necessary to save – daily worksheets, coloring pages, flyers for activities we won’t be participating in. If I have questions on anything, I’ll ask them. However, I’m pretty ruthless when it comes to throwing stuff out. We only keep the best of the best each week. I think this is a great lesson to teach kids about deciding what is really important and to keep the clutter to a minimum.
C. Then I sort their stuff, putting any “action” items on the memo board, study materials and newsletters back in their tray and their best artwork or high grades in the spare “to save” bottom bin.
School Organization Tips – Memo Board:
I’ve placed a memo board above the paper trays, which I use for the following:
- That year’s school calendar for easy at a glance reference
(p.s. I also take a pic of this so I always have it with me for easy reference)
- Forms that Need to Go Back to School (but not right away)
- Upcoming Event Flyers
- The “Favorite” Paper of the Week (artwork, good grade, etc)
- Coupons Earned (Book-It, Free Ice Cream Awards)
Basically, I put stuff there that I need to see so I don’t forget about it. This way it is right in my face and easy to find.
School Organization Tips – File Bin:
At the end of the week or over the weekend, I will go through any items in their personal trays as well as the items in the “to save” tray. If I can trash anything right away, I do (yep, ruthless)
I’ll place papers that need to be kept, but not necessarily used regularly, into folders in the file bin
- project rubrics
- extra-curricular activity info
- I also have a file for each child for their progress reports and report cards
Once I’ve filed those items, then I let each child choose their two favorite items of the week in terms of a good grade or artwork. One goes on the memo board and one goes in a “good grade” folder in the file bin. Some artwork and projects won’t fit in the file, so that’s where the storage containers come in.
This usually takes me a total of 5 minutes!
School Organization Tips – Storage Container
I have one storage container of the size you see above for each child. I have cleared enough room to keep it in each of their closets. During the year, I’ll put their best artwork pieces that they want to save in there as well as any other truly special mementos (awards, school pics, etc).
At the end of each school year, I’ll empty their report card and good grade files and place them in their storage bins as well. My goal is that for pre-school through 12th grade, that one bin will hold their most precious memories and best work, and when they have a home of their own I can pass it on to them. Rather than having box upon box of stuff that they’ll just have to sort and store and deal with, this is my gift to them. Memories and a Lesson in Simplicity.
Looking for other organization tips? Check out our post on Cleaning and Organizing on a Budget.