Are you drowning under a mountain of kids’ school papers? Newsletters, permission slips, homework, artwork, lunch orders, event and trip information, certificates, report cards… and then there are the digital communications, facebook, email, texts. How do you keep track of it all?
Have you missed a special event at school because you missed the notice or forgot about it? Have you done a last-minute dash to school to pay for lunches and hand in permission slips?
Yes, me too!
So, I’ve come up with a few systems for organizing school work at home.
First, let’s talk about how to store school memorabilia, and then we’ll dive into how to manage school notices you need to action.
How to Organize Kids’ School Papers to keep
How to Store Kids’ School Artwork
The first thing you will notice when your kids start kindergarten is that they bring home a lot of ‘art’. At first you might be tempted to keep everything, but eventually you will realize your house is not big enough! And where are you going to keep all this stuff anyway?
I bought each child an art portfolio case which I keep in the back of their wardrobes. When they bring something home I place it in these folders (after spending a sufficient amount of time admiring it, of course). If they bring home something too big for the folder (like all the woodwork creations my son brought home) I take a photo of it and place the photo in the folder.
At the end of the year, I go through all the papers in the folder and choose memorable ones to place in an A3 clear binder.
What to do with School Memorabilia
There’s plenty of other things the kids bring home from school that you want to keep. These include:
- school certificates,
- report cards,
- sports awards,
- work brought home,
- old school papers,
- completed workbooks,
- program from a school play or concert,
- School or kindergarten profiles etc.
How do you decide what school papers to keep? Well, really it is up to you to decide what is significant and important. So far I’ve kept all the report cards, certificates and completed workbooks they’ve brought home. But I only keep individual worksheets if it’s something special, like a story they have written.
What kind of paper organizer are you going to use to store the kids’ school work?
I started out by having one school keepsake folder in my filing cabinet where all school-related papers I wanted to keep were placed. But now I have two children at school and one about to start I have purchased separate file boxes for each child. Now each child will have a School Memory Box to keep. I have a file for their report cards and then a file for each year. Between each file, I have placed their old book bag containing all their workbooks from that year. I will probably have to cull these bags soon as the box gets too full.
Using file boxes rather than scrapbooks as a school year memory keeper has a couple of advantages:
- It is easier to put the papers in a file rather than sticking in a scrapbook,
- You can easily rearrange items,
- You can also add non-paper keepsakes like medals, badges or ribbons.
I’ll just need to clear some more space in the garage to store them!
I also print out photos of each child throughout the school year to add to their school work organizer. Things like the first day of school, getting certificates, performances and sports events.
Organizing school paperwork requires more than just storage, though. Some require action!
How to Organize Kids’ School Papers to action
How to declutter Kids’ School Newsletters and notices
Do you have paper piles of newsletters and school notices you want to keep because you will need to refer to them for dates of events? Or maybe there’s a school camp or sports day and you have a list of things to bring that you want to keep for reference.
If you just have a pile of papers on your desk or kitchen counter then you are likely to lose or forget something.
I’ve been there!
Our school newsletter comes via email, so I can sit at my desk, with my calendar and planner and record anything I need to remember. If there are some additional notes I want to remember (like a list of items the children need to bring) I will write that in my planner too. Then I close the email and move it to a school folder. (Remember to keep your email inbox empty – but that’s another story!!)
It’s those little extra pieces of paper the kids bring home that can be more of a hassle. But it’s a very similar pattern: record the event in the calendar and planner and then file the paper. I’m trying to train the children to put any notices in the inbox in my office rather than waving them at me and leaving them in the car or on the kitchen counter – but it’s a work in progress! My eight-year-old has just brought me a party invitation for my four-year-old that she found in the bushes in the garden! It’s half eaten by snails but luckily I can still read the important details and we haven’t missed the party!!
For events that are coming up in the next week or two, I keep the paper in a clear plastic pocket marked ‘Waiting’ in my inbox. If the event is further away (like a school camp) I file the notice in a concertina file separated for each month.
Even though I have recorded all the information in my planner I still like to keep the original notice to refer to. The kids often come home with some mixed message about what they are supposed to do so it is good to be able to pull out the original notice.
Tips for organizing ‘Parent Homework’
And now for the homework! Yes, parents get homework too. This is all the paperwork that comes home that you need to do something with and then return to school, usually with some cash!
- Permission Slips
- Lunch Orders
- Stationery Orders
- Dress-up days (where kids bring a gold coin for charity)
- Request for volunteers
- Any other time the school wants your time or money!
When the kids come home from school and wave some notice in front of you (usually accompanied by them telling you what YOU need to do about it) it’s not usually an appropriate time.
So, how do you manage the kids’ school papers if you don’t want to deal with them right now?
Here’s my method:
- Check if the notice needs to be returned to school the next day. If it does I get the children to place the notice on the passenger seat of the car so we will see it on the way to school the next day. I keep a bag of coins, envelopes, and a pen in the car so I can deal with these quick notices, like lunch orders. (If your kids walk to school you could keep a similar container near where they keep their bags). If it is more convenient you could deal with these notices as soon as they come home rather than in the morning.
- If the kids’ school papers don’t have to be dealt with before my next ‘Weekly Review’ I get the children to put the notice in my inbox. This could be on your kitchen counter, in your office, or anywhere else that works for you.
- During my weekly review, which I have on Monday mornings, I go through all the paper in my inbox. Then I sign any forms that need signing, record details in my calendar and planner, and put the return slips in the car for the kids to pack.
All the kids’ school paperwork has been dealt with and organized. Nothing should get lost or forgotten again, right?
Well, we are still human and things do still slip through the cracks. So, my final piece of advice is to give yourself (and others) some grace when something gets missed, or a child suddenly announces as you are about to leave for school that they are supposed to be dressed as an alien today!
Hi, I’m Karen. I grew up in Scotland and now live in New Zealand with my husband and three kids. I blog about planning, productivity and time management for homemakers at thefruitfulhomemaker.com. Discover my Top 10 Ways to Overcome Housework Procrastination and sign up for my free Productivity Pack.