August is back to school month, and as kids head back to the classroom, the first few days of the semester see them returning home every day with forms to be filled out. The beginning of a new school year means that contact forms, medical records, permission slips and much more all need to be completed, copied and stored.
If you are like most busy parents your school papers organization system probably revolves around the kitchen counter. Unfortunately, it’s not a great system. Important papers get lost, ignored, or recycled.
In the spirit of new beginnings that a new school year creates resolve to take one hour to get a handle on your family’s school papers organization system. Use this step-by-step solution to help you.
Gather the Tools You’ll Need to Organize School Papers
School papers organization begins with creating a storage system that is both convenient and easy to use. The supplies I suggest you purchase to help you get started should include:
- A portable filing bin that accommodates hanging files
A hanging file for each child
2 additional hanging files
A supply of 10-inch by 13-inch envelopes
As these will be on display someplace (we’ll figure out where in a minute) consider opting for more attractive options than office store basics.
Label Your Files
Next it is time to label the files you have created. I suggest doing so as follows:
This folder is where papers that need to be signed should be stored. These will include things like permission slips that need to be returned, teacher requests, PTA announcements, and flyers about events that need to be added to your calendar.
This file is for forms or information that you need not keep forever but will need to refer to soon. For example, information on an upcoming field trip that includes a list of what your child is to bring or an upcoming school carnival flyer.
Long-Term Storage (One Label For Each Child’s Name)
This folder is for each child’s progress reports, test scores, awards, certificates, or programs from school plays or musical events.
After you label the files, it’s time to put them away. Add the hanging files to the portable filing bin. Keep the bin in a centrally located spot such as the kitchen or home office. The secret to school papers organization is to have a central place to put all the papers!
Choose a Location for the Organizer
It’s best to place your new organizer in the spot where those school papers usually accumulate, at least at first. As you get used to the system, you can move it to another spot that is best for sorting and storing the papers each day.
Sort That Stack!
As your child brings you stacks of school papers drop them in the appropriate hanging folder. Teach your kids to organize their paperwork themselves. Have them take out their homework and hand over the paperwork you need to check out.
Review Your Paperwork and Take Action
Now that the school papers are organized, you will need to set up a routine for when you check each file.
Review the take action/sign file daily.
Every evening, review the papers in the take action/sign file. Sign all forms and permission slips and put them in your child’s backpack. Add any new meetings, concerts or events to your calendar. Once this is done, either file the form in the short-term storage file for future reference or recycle it.
Review the short-term storage file regularly.
Review the school papers in the short-term storage file on an as-needed basis. On the day of the field trip, you’ll know right where to find the flyer with details and instructions. Once the event has come and gone, throw the form away.
Keep things to save in the long-term file.
Anything you want to save should be placed in the long term file.
Organizing Keepsake Papers
At the end of each semester or school year, take the papers from each child’s file that are special to you or your child. Put them in a 10-inch by 13-inch envelope with your child’s name and school year noted on the front.
Store the envelopes in a drawer or bin. You now have the special papers, awards, and certificates for each child organized by school year with no extra work.
This is a simple solution for school paper organization that maintains itself provided you practice daily discipline with the steps outlined. Stick with this system and school paperwork clutter won’t take over your home again.
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