I gave you a very brief look at how I organize school papers yesterday when I showed you our family command center. Today I wanted to go a little more in depth. Let’s face it. Kids bring home a lot of papers from school. Notes, reminders, art work, projects, forms, homework, classwork….it’s a lot. This year we have 3 in regular school and 1 in preschool. That’s 4 times the paperwork and holy cow, it’s a clutter buster! So now I have a whole system for school paper organization! I know- system sounds so complex but it’s really not. You’ll see!
The first thing I did was designate different school paper zones. I made a zone for papers that require action, papers to keep for reference, and papers/art to save. I showed you my magazine holder turned paper clutter buster yesterday. This is where any papers requiring action are kept- one slot for each kid. I try to fill out forms immediately and return them right away but that’s not always possible. By having them in a designated location at least I know I’m not going to lose anything important.
Any papers that do not need action but I need to keep for reference get placed in the proper child’s file folder in my Everyday File Box that sits on top of my desk in the family command center. These papers include class newsletters, school newsletters, PTA stuff, report cards, test scores, reading logs, information from Mase’s speech therapy, etc. At the end of each semester I go through these files. Anything that doesn’t need to be kept anymore like class/school newsletters or old PTA forms get tossed out and the things I do want to keep such as report cards, test scores or speech progress reports get transferred to the main household file box.
The main household file box is where I keep the most important school papers that I want to save indefinitely. Things such as report cards, end-of-year test results, IEP’s for the kids who need one, Mase’s speech progress reports….things that I don’t necessarily need to reference often but still need to be kept.
The kid’s memory boxes are the last place I have set up to organize school papers. Any art work or projects that the kids want to keep get put in their memory boxes. I keep the memory boxes on a shelf in my front closet for easy access. Once a year at the end of the previous school year we sit down and go through all the art and papers added through out the school year. The kids choose which ones they really want to keep- I usually set a limit on how many they can choose for space reasons. When they’ve decided on their favorites I put them in each kid’s main memory box that I keep in the attic. These are large tupperware containers and I have one for each child. They’re large enough to keep pretty much everything until they leave home. Ty is 13 and his box is only half full- that’s how big the boxes are and I wish you could have seen Matt trying to get them up in the attic. Pretty sure even I learned a few new words that day. Sorry, no pictures of the boxes in the attic. There are spiders up there so I only make that journey once a year.
Now having all these places is a great start but I still needed a system. When the kids get home in the afternoon from school the first thing I do is go through their book bags and remove any papers that have been sent home. I sort them immediately. If I get a class or school newsletter with dates that I need to remember, those dates are entered on the master calendar immediately. I don’t keep graded homework unless it’s really important or part of a larger project. Anything the kids don’t want to keep for their memory box gets put on the island to show dad when he gets home from work and gets recycled before dinner.
I can’t tell you how much easier life is when you don’t have to scramble to find a paper that your kid just remembers is due that day and you’re on the way out the door! Mommy doesn’t function on all cylinders until at least 9am.
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