We are not quite sure how it happens, but in our modern world of technology and "going paperless"...the amount of papers and forms that come home with our children every school year seem to constantly multiply! The piles stack up and before we know it, the kitchen counter and table have turned into a paper mill. So much for eating dinner at the table as a family tonight!
But guess what?!? We have a little secret....organizing AND managing all of those papers and forms can actually be very SIMPLE. Before you know it, you will be eating at your kitchen table once again!
As busy moms with busy kids, we have developed an easy to follow system organizing and managing school papers/forms that works for us and we are confident it will work for you too!
Steps for Success when organizing/managing school papers:
1. Determine what type of paperwork it is.
The best piece of advice I ever received about all the many, many papers children bring home from school is to never touch it more than once! This one simple rule will help you keep your home free of the school paper clutter!
When a child brings home paperwork from school, the first thing to do is to determine what "type" of paperwork it is:
- Important paperwork that needs to be signed/returned
- School news and/or reminders
- Returned/graded school work
- Artwork or other items/work that your child created
2. Sign the Important Paperwork that needs to be returned.
Instead of setting this paperwork to the side to be "looked at" later, sign it the first time you read it and place it back in your child's backpack/folder to be returned to school the next day. It might take you 5 extra minutes when going through the papers, but you will no longer forget to sign those field trip slips or lose the yearbook order form! It is always a good idea to snap a quick picture of the form/paper or jot down any special dates it might contain so you have all important information on hand when you need it.
3. Make note of important school news/dates.
When the school newsletters/reminders come home, enter those important dates/information into your calendar right away so nothing sneaks up on you. Whether you prefer a traditional pen/paper calendar or keep everything stored on your phone, having important dates written down will help make future planning easier. Once you have all important information recorded, recycle the news letter/reminder and free yourself of one more piece of clutter. If something has a large amount of important information, you can always take a picture and refer back to it later as needed.
As the papers start to trickle in, have your child file their graded papers and special creations into their special “spot”. More than once in our lives I have had a child who desperately wanted to see the picture of the unicorn they drew 2 weeks ago or they needed to look back on a past assignment to study for a test. Problem solved! They simply went to their “spot”, found what they were looking for, and all was right with the world once again!
4. Sort for storing.
Quarterly (a good rule of thumb is when report cards come out) sort through each child’s “landing spot” to determine what can now be recycled/trashed and what needs a more permanent home. We all know some things are meant to be “keepers” - that heartfelt poem written by your 10 year old and the amazing self portrait drawn by your 6 yr old - these items can now be safely stored in a more permanent place. Special papers can be stored in a variety of ways from placing them in sleeve protectors and keeping them in binders to taking digital pictures of the papers and creating your very own book on your favorite photo site.
Before you know it, you now have a clean and empty “landing spot” ready for another round of school papers!!! These four simple steps, when practiced regularly, can help keep school paper clutter under control. Not only will the piles of papers be gone, but you will find that you are able to be more organized and efficient in other areas of your life as well. Have a great school year!