It’s that time of year.
Our energy is fresh and ambition is high as we shop for school supplies, establish a bedtime routine, and recommit to reading with the kids every night. With all that fresh motivation, let’s make sure we are establishing a plan for how to organize all the kids’ school papers. If we don’t do it now, soon the backpacks full of papers and the lost homework packets will curb our enthusiasm.
Here are some simple tips to keep you on top of the paper:
- Go through the kid’s backpacks every night. I like to do it right when they come home from school. Keeping up on this prevents an intimidating buildup of paper to be gone through, and thus alleviates the inevitable guilt that follows when you miss something important in a time-sensitive note.
- Utilize a desktop file for homework and other action paper. Homework packets, soccer schedules, and papers to sign need their own special place where they won’t be forgotten – and that doesn’t mean stacking them all up on that one spot on the counter. The whole family can benefit from what is called an action system – a desktop file for any paper that requires action, bills to be paid, statements to call on, or homework to do. Use a hanging file folder to make a file for everyone in the family. This is my top strategy for eliminating paper clutter on countertops.
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- Select a container for storing school work to save. My container of choice is a 15-Quart Sterilite container. It’s the perfect size for holding a respectable amount of “important” test, reports, and art projects during the year. The rule is that we can only save what fits in the box. If it gets full before the end of the year, the kids have some throwing away to do. This is a win-win; I am teaching my children how to be organized AND I am keeping my space clean and clear.
- Remember FIFO when it comes to displaying the kids’ work. This is an accounting term I borrow when it comes to organizing, and it stands for “First In, First Out.” Whether it’s the fridge or magnet board, rotate the masterpieces that are on display. Removing one paper when it’s time to display another keeps your kitchen from looking like a backpack exploded and everything stuck to the fridge!
- The Best of the Best. In a few years, those papers that seemed so important will lose a lot of their appeal. In fact, that process has already begun by the end of the school year. When school gets out for the year, I condense the kids’ work into what will fit into a 10×13 envelope and then store those envelopes in their personal bin in the basement. Bottom line: you don’t need to save very much! Just the highlights.
- Big Art Project Dilemma. We’ve all had the same dilemma when it comes to mobiles, panoramas, and other 3-D projects. They are super cool, but they can quickly overtake any room. The solution? Snap a quick picture and hang it on the wall or fridge. This will honor the project and validate the child while allowing you to maintain an organized space.