My first child started elementary school last year. I was shocked by the amount of papers that she brought home each day. I knew that if I did not have good systems in place, we would be overwhelmed by the paper clutter within a few days. So I created a system to manage school paper clutter quickly. If school paper clutter is taking over your home, try these tricks to get control of it.
Empty the Take Home Folder Every Night
Just about every school has a take home folder of some sort that they use to send home information. This same folder is also how you return signed forms and homework. When your child is younger, you need to empty it out with them each night. The goal is to get them to be able to do it on their own by second or third grade. Older children should know how to do this, but if they don’t make it a point to teach them. Teachers spend weeks teaching children procedures, why not spend some time setting up your own?
Fill Out All Forms Immediately
After your child’s bag is emptied and you have all the school papers, go through the pile and look for any forms that need to be filled out. Fill them out and send them back to school as soon as possible. For any forms that have a later due date that you need to hang onto, put a reminder in your calendar or phone so you don’t forget about them.
Write Down All Dates
Any calendars or flyers with upcoming dates are the next most important papers from your child’s folder. Process these forms by notating the dates in your calendar or planner and then recycle them. If the flyer is for a really special event that you want to have a visual reminder of, put it in a conspicuous spot and then recycle it when the event is over. Here’s how we track our family’s daily schedule successfully.
Keep It All In One Place
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Another good rule for processing school paper clutter is to keep it all in one place. We have a letter tray on one of our kitchen counters. That is where all school papers are collected and stored for us to look through. We also have a spot for folders and review work in a mail organizer. In the mail organizer we also keep pens, scissors, post it notes and a hole punch should we need them to process the papers. Our kids also use these supplies to complete their schoolwork.
Save a Few Papers for Keepsakes
It would be nice to keep every paper that our child has ever done. However, that is completely unrealistic and it only teaches them bad clutter habits. Either on your own or with your child, pick a few special papers that are worth saving. Here are some guidelines for papers to save:
- Papers that have a unique or special drawing or a special art project.
- Writing assignments that are creative or talk about their feelings or life right now.
- Any all about me books or papers. They will enjoy looking back on these.
- A Test, quiz or homework assignment that shows their work and a great grade.
Remember the goal here is to curate a nice collection of your child’s school work that they will enjoy looking back on. You don’t want to save everything because that will just overwhelm them.
My system for sorting my children’s school papers is very simple, but it only works well if I am consistent. That is really the key to any area of your home that you want to keep organized. Set up a system and be consistent with it.
Here are more tips for handling paper clutter in your home.