How To Organize Your Children’s Schoolwork
School has started in many places, which means more mounds of paper clutter to keep under control. Here are some tips to help keep all of that school paperwork from multiplying, reproducing and generally taking over your home and your life.
Set a certain time and place to go through your kids’ backpacks and paperwork each day. Use this time to sign all those papers you need to sign, mark upcoming meetings or events on the calendar and sort through everything.
The best time and place to organize schoolwork will vary for each family. For us, it was best to do it the moment the kids walked through the door while it was fresh on their minds. I would have a snack ready for them, they would explain the papers to me and while I was dealing with them (signing, writing on the calendar or admiring their handiwork), they would tell me about their day.
Then I would return everything that needed to go back into their backpacks, trash the rest or put it in a special place or folder. This helps prevent things from getting tossed on the counter or table where they are eventually lost or forgotten.
Of course you will need a calendar and/or small bulletin board or dry erase board.
My calendar has very large squares where I simply mark what needs to be done. If there is something very important that I must not forget no matter what, I mark it in red, but I write everything else in pencil in case I need to change it. Then I can just erase it and make the necessary changes.
There have been times when I used a purple pen if I wanted the kids to remember something. I read about a study which found that people will remember things better when marked in purple.
Use different colored markers or pens for different things. For example, one child’s events will all be in green, all dentist appointments are in blue or whatever works best for you.
If there are special papers that go with an event, I either paper clip them to the calendar page, pin them to a small bulletin board or place them in a folder, making a star on the calendar so I know to look on the bulletin board or in the folder for the paper that goes with the event.
All my events seem to fit fine on one large square of a calendar. If your events don’t fit, you might need to look at changing a few things in your life and cutting back on some things. This could be a sign you are too busy.
There are many many fancy and expensive calendar systems out there. I personally find them to be more confusing and more work than they are worth but if they work for you, use one.
I know that some of you who work away from home need day planners and other organization systems but that is another whole subject that I deal with in my e book Plan It, Then Do It.
Another system some people like is to have a folder for each child with special papers in it. For example, if one child is having a class party, I will mark the class party on the calendar but then place the paper with all the info about it in the folder. Once again, I would place a star by the event to remind me more info is in the folder. Once a week these folders should be sorted through so they don’t get cluttered.
Always keep folders of any kind in an upright position in a holder. Most folders or papers that are laid in a horizontal position get forgotten, lost, piled on or not used.
KEEP IT SIMPLE. This could be the most important point of all. If it is complicated and too involved neither you or your family won’t bother to use it. Sometimes it isn’t our families which are the problem but the system we choice to use. Just because it comes highly endorsed by a famous organizer or some such does not mean it will work for you so don’t fight it and try something different.
Well I will sign off for now. I am looking at the piles of paper on my own desk and think I might need to take a break, practice what I preach and clear my desk. : )
Photo By: magma666
I really needed this today! My paper clutter is out of control & school hasn’t even started yet! Thank-you.
In our house we have a dry erase board which is half dry erase and half corkboard. Each Child does get a different color dry erase marker and we have magnets with days of the week on them that I got from the locker accessories at a back to school sale.
When my children were in school, I bought a clipboard for each child, and I hung the clipboards on the wall near the door. Whenever there were forms/papers to sign,newsletters to read, etc…, they were placed on the correct clipboard. I checked the clipboards each night after supper. I also kept a monthly calendar on each clipboard so I could highlight important dates to remember (when projects were due…). It worked great for us.
I’ve been thinking about doing this, Sheri! Glad to hear it worked well for you. Many items can be dealt with immediately but there are always those pesky few papers which you need to keep in a safe place, and my refridgerator soon gets wayyyy too cluttered with items attached with magnets! Or else everything ends up on my kitchen countertop and I inevitably splash food on it. I like the calendar idea, too.
We homeschool, so I don’t have forms and such, but it is an enormous job to stay organized. Everyone would keep every shred of paper if allowed!! For our giant schedule everyone has a color. Red, Purple, Gray, Green (girl girl boy boy too)
That tells then what to do when. Some things they work on separately (writing, reading, some language) with little or no help from me. Other things like Science and History are done together. I also keep a binder with specifics. In history my oldest might have to research what we’re learning about for a short paper, while my youngers may only have to act out the story or draw a picture. So I have our main weekly schedule and then one for each child with specifics. I just use an excel sheet and add/delete as needed. I used to stress myself out every year that I had to do things like the book Managers of their Homes. They schedule EVERYTHING. Now I just use it as a guideline. From experience, do what works best for you and your family. We did and it works great for us :)
Thanks for the star next to the event idea! I have spent so much time looking for things that are right in my calendar pocket because I had forgotten I had put it there so I wouldn’t lose it. :)
I pick up my kids from school each day and we use the time in the car to talk about their day, what’s planned for the next day or two, what homework they have for the night, etc. Then when we walk in the door, they put their stuff down in the kitchen, hand me any papers (not so many now they’re in high school) I need, get a snack, while I start cooking dinner. They pack lunches for the next day at this time, too.
We have a rule, all books, papers, notebooks, must be in the kitchen in their designated spot at bedtime. It only takes an extra 3 minutes to get it all together. Those 3 minutes don’t matter at bedtime, but if left till the morning, 3 minutes makes the difference between driving sanely to school, and rushing like a crazy woman to get them there on time!
My calendar is their calendar, if what they’re doing involves me in any way (like driving to/from, or attending a performance or meeting). They know to put their information on top of my calendar — checking my calendar is one of the first business items I approach each day.
While I don’t have any kids at home now, I will tell you what worked at our house. I bought the biggest calendar I could find and put it on the back of the kitchen door. Every day, when the kids came home from school, we put any important events, dates on the calendar and put the paper about it in a folder on the dining room table. Also, on the calendar were our whole family events as well as church and school deadlines. We put dentist and dr. appts there, too. I tried different colors for each person – we couldn’t remember who belonged to each color after a while. My daughter had her “I want purple, I want blue” weeks so we just put their initials after the event and it worked for us. This was easy for us to refer to because we have to close the kitchen door to get into the pantry so we were always looking at it. Sometimes, it was a good thing because we would have missed something fun without the calendar. Once my kids were through college, I reverted to a small whiteboard calendar on the fridge and it is perfect for my husband and I. Just a few short words reminds us of the picnic, blood work, etc. I do keep a small medical calendar in my purse since I have lots of bloodwork and dr. appts but otherwise, this is our way to keep track. I have a separate calendar for work events only because I am an office manager of 18 people and I don’t need to see these activities on my home calendar – other than my vacation days, of course. The whiteboard calendar is only for 1 month and I erase it and start over each month.
I was just thinking about how glad I am that all of this is now behind me. As a homeschooling mom for 18 years, I had a lot of paper work and organizing to do. Even if you are empty nesters like us, these same organizational ideas have real value. I find that I regularly need to keep on top of the paperwork for dr.’s appointments, prescription refills, bill paying, vet appointments, seasonal errands and special events, etc. It is especially important as my memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be, and neither is my eyesight. Thanks again for the tips.