Simple Family Organization: Easily Organize School Papers
Organize School Papers at Home
Solves the problem of… how to manage and organize the daily flood of papers from school!
How the “School Papers” System Works
Our system for organizing school papers at home is pretty simple and straightforward.
- The kids clean out their backpacks every day, after school. (It’s one of their “after-school” magnets, from our Morning Magnet routine.) Trash goes in the trash. Papers go on their clipboards, as pictured above. For older students –upper middle and high school–I would only have them put papers on the clipboard that specifically need my attention.
- The children place the clipboards on the counter (not pictured) to catch my attention when I get home.
- When I get home, I review all papers with them. On really hectic nights, I may only check to see if anything needs my urgent attention.
- I put papers away. If something needs to go back to school, I put it in their backpack. If papers need to be filed, I file them. If papers can go in the circular file cabinet, I’ll file them accordingly.
- They choose what they want to display. Each child has one “display clipboard” on the refrigerator. They get to choose what they want to display. (See photo, below.) Sometimes, the display changes daily. Other times, months go by before they opt to change their display. Either way, I don’t have to tape things to the wall, clutter my fridge with magnets, and best of all, I don’t have to decide when to take things down. The kids manage all of this! (Also pictured below, Simple Family Organization: Morning Magnets.)
Q: What about homework?
A: Homework goes on the clipboard, too. They don’t have to wait for me to start their homework. (Although, they usually need prompting from me or the babysitter.) At their current ages (11 & 6), I still want to see all papers. So, everything returns to the clipboard until I have reviewed it.
Q: What do you do with papers you want to keep?
A: I keep them in our Command Center.
- Two clipboards, per child.
- Two 3-M hooks, per child.
- Modge podge and fun paper for decoupage, optional.
How to Set Up the “School Papers” System
- Hang one clipboard per child as close to the entry door as possible. For me, the end of my kitchen island is within just a few steps of the garage door. You may find a mud room or hallway is more convenient.
- Hang one “display clipboard” per child in a prominent location.
- Decoupage clipboards. (Optional.)
- Consider rewards and/or consequences for non-compliance. (I charge my children for non-compliance. See my Allowance System.)
Simple Family Organization: Three Rules for Success
This is just one post in my series “Simple Family Organization.” Find a full directory of additional posts, here. I’ve been creating systems for students and businesses for more than 20 years. In that time, I’ve found three “rules” that make systems successful for all ages:
Three Rules for Success
1. They must be easily accessible. Everything must be within easy reach for every member of the family. Also, whenever possible, supplies should be accessible with just ONE HAND. If you need two hands to move or manipulate something, the rate of compliance drops significantly.
2. They must require little maintenance. I have found lots of beautiful systems on Pinterest. But, I always ask, “What’s required if I need to change something down the road?” (Such as add a new meal, or a new ‘task’?) If making adjustments in the future will require more than a few steps, I’ll never get around to doing it. So, I keep it simple from the start.
3. They must be “80% Successful or better.” Not one of my “Simple Family Organization Systems” has been used accurately, 100% of the time. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes the kids forget. Sometimes our rhythm is thrown off for some unforeseen reason. But, overall, these systems have made a dramatic improvement in our lives at least 80% of the time.
Make it happen!
Susan Kruger, M.Ed.
Mom & Founder of StudySkills.com