Organized School Year

It’s that time of year! Kids are starting to get back into the groove of school and mom and dad are drowning in a sea of papers that these kiddos bring home everyday! Assignments, important dates, art work, library books, homework…and the list goes on and on and on and well you get the picture. What is it about this stuff that makes it so hard to organize? 

Well for starters, any artwork associated to your child is harder to throw away because THEY made it. I know first hand how it feels to get caught tossing a paper that my child has worked on….awful!  Our son thinks we should keep everything he brings home!  I had to explain to him that we should only keep the most special pieces and now he helps me decide. Other paperwork is tricky because if there is an action that needs to be taken (such as signing) we are afraid that we will forget about it unless it is left on the kitchen counter.

And then we have to consider how to keep up with the other items they need for school such as backpacks, lunch pails, coats, shoes…and that list goes on and on. I wish I had a dollar for each time I have been asked  how I handle all these annoying, I mean lovely papers and things???  So I am spilling the beans, here is what we do in our house. I can’t say it enough: Everything Needs a Home.  That includes all the pesky little papers and supplies that go along with having a child in school.

School Reference Binder

This simple 3 ring binder can house all papers pertaining to school and activities that you may have to refer to throughout the year. School calendars, handbooks, class rosters, cafeteria info, extra circular activity info…anything that includes information you may have to look up.  If you have more than one child in school you can use tab inserts to divide.

Notice I label the spine “School Reference” so anyone can find it.

Family Launch Pad

A family launch pad is a space that houses everything your family needs to launch into a new day. Examples of what should be kept in this space: shoes, coats (not every one they own, just the ones for the season), umbrellas, mittens, gloves, backpacks and sometimes even keys.

Here are some ideas for places that you can have your family launch pad: hooks, a bench, baskets, an armoire (this is what I had to use in our old house), an extra closet, a spot in the garage, at the bottom of the basement stairs…it doesn’t matter where as long as it works for your family.

Here is a peak at our Family Launch Pad:

Hooks are a must for kids. Each person in our family has a cubby
above or mittens, hats etc and a space below for shoes. The first thing they
have to do when they get home from school is put their things in their homes.

Homework Station

A homework station is a place for everything that your child needs to do his or her homework.  By keeping all homework supplies in one area you will help your child complete his homework quickly and efficiently. And it will be less frustrating for you because you won’t have to waste time searching for what you need. This can be a basket that they carry to a comfortable spot, a desk, a cupboard-whatever works for your family.  When we built our organized home I designed a spot in the kitchen.  This spot is close to where the kids come in from school and close to me when I cooking dinner!  Take a look:

Utensil organizers are great for drawers like this where we are storing
pens, pencils, paste, highlighter and more.
If you look closely at our homework station you will notice the bottom drawer is a file drawer.  I keep one file for my son and one for my daughter.  This is where I place the most special projects and papers they bring home.  I only store the paper from the current school year and then we clean it out over summer vacation.  That is when I widdle it down even more.  I can tell you it is much easier to part with these items when time has provided a chance to become less attached to their work.  After I clean out the file I store what we are keeping in a huge 3 ring binder with sleeve protectors or large manila envelopes. I don’t keep a lot because I see what happens when you do.  Some of my clients have saved papers like these for years and guess what the adult children hardly ever want them! 

This little organizer is in the top cupboard of our homework station.  I place all papers that need to be signed or read in this spot until I have a chance to take the action needed.

Where do you keep your family launch pad?  What tips can you share with other parents about dealing with school papers?

For lots more tips and resources to help you get organized for school check out my book: Organize Now! a week-by-week guide to simplify your space and your life.