Permissions slips, artwork, sports schedules, homework, lunch calendars. Can you feel the school paperwork piling up?
School is back and that means paper, paper, and oh yes, did I mention more paper? Show of hands if you have already lost some, or you’re having flashbacks to those teacher emails from last year reminding you, for the second time, to send in your son’s permission slip. Don’t sweat it. It happens to all of us ESPECIALLY if you have multiples in school.
Here are a few simple tips that will keep all of those back to school papers in order throughout the year.
Tip 1 – Clear out Backpacks EVERY DAY
Make sure kids have a designated area for their backpacks to be kept before and after school. Maybe it’s in the mudroom, or someplace in the kitchen. Get them into the habit of emptying their folders of paper each time they come home from school.
This will keep paper from accumulating in their backpacks but will also prevent mountains of it from showing up all at once later.
Tip 2 – Decide What Paper to Keep
Things like permission slips should be singed and returned to your child’s folder as soon as the backpack is emptied. This way it is never forgotten or gets lost. Plus, this takes no time at all to complete.
Sports and other event calendars should be kept, but only long enough until the important dates can be transferred to the family calendar. If you don’t have time be sure to put those schedules into an action file which we will talk about in Tip 5.
Worksheets, pictures and drawings. This can be a tough one because as precious as every scribbled drawing, handprint, and craft maybe, you simply can’t keep them all. Try to limit the number of saved items to only what will fit in a single file for that specific age or grade.
This is a very personal choice, but some things to ask yourself when deciding what should stay or go are “what is really important to me?” or “what would my kids like to look back on someday?”
Tip 3 – Showcase the Special Pieces
When kids create a piece of artwork that they’re especially proud of or they do well on an exam, they proudly want to display those pieces. I would highly recommend having a designated space for this, and not your refrigerator. Displaying items there ends up looking cluttered and can make your kitchen look and feel messy too.
My recommendation would be to use a magnetic board or clipboards. These methods prevent those treasured pieces from being ruined by staples, tape, or holes.
When items have been displayed long enough and others are ready to take their place, kids can easily arrange their creations and school papers how they would like to show them.
There are tons of ways out there to showcase schoolwork and other papers, and Pinterest is a great place to gain some inspiration.
Tip 4 – Contain the Extra Special Items
Once you have gone through these steps you should be left with only the best pieces that you and your child would like to hold onto. A great place to store these valued papers would be a keepsake bin.
There are many options for keepsake bins, but my favorite method is using hanging file folders inside of a file box. Each file can be labeled with the age or grade along with any other miscellaneous files such as birthday cards, school pictures, or special awards.
Having one box for each child ensures that all important school papers, documents, and keepsakes are all in one location and never get lost.
This way when your child’s high school graduation rolls around you can pull out their keepsake box and put it on display for guests to have a walk down memory lane. Now that’s going to win you most organized mama on the block award!
Tip 5 – The Action Box
We briefly touched on this in tip 2. If you don’t have time to take action on the papers right away, or if they need to be saved for a later time, you need a place for them to be stored short term.
An action box is simple to create and maintain. Get a hanging file bin and some hanging file folders. Find some that go along with your décor since you are going to put this in the place where you would typically open your mail and empty backpacks.
Label a file folder for each child, and one that says “To Do.” This action box is where you can store those papers that need signed, the school lunch calendar that you will need to check, and that sports signup sheet which that you need to write a check for, and any other important papers that need to be close by, but not filed away for good.
This system will only work if you keep up with it. That means checking it at least once a week. To get you into the routine pick a day that you know you are home every week and set an alarm for 5 to 10 minutes.
Bonus Tip – Take Pictures
If you are someone that really struggles to know what to keep and toss… take a picture of it! Yup, it’s that simple. Pictures can be stored on your phone or any other digital storage program. This way you keep those special pieces without actually having to keep the physical items.
You Are Paper Organized Now
Now you are ready to take on this school year like the super mom you are! Grab supplies and start creating those paper storage systems.