It’s that time of year: EVERYTHING starts coming home from school, and then it piles up, you can’t find it, and you can’t remember if any of it was important! This happens to all of us. A couple days ago, we tackled how to organize end of the school year clothes, supplies, backpacks, etc. But what to do with all of those papers… yes, this topic definitely needed it's own post!
Here are some ideas to make your end-of-the-school-year paper shuffling a little bit easier! Some of these ideas may cover a range of ages because everyone is bringing stuff home, but your 7th grader’s papers look a bit different from your 1st grader’s papers.
If your kids are older, ask them if they received anything important sent home and watch for other important papers in the mail. You’ll have to decide how reliable/trustworthy your child is. Then you need to sort them into one of three categories:
Anything your child wrote or drew should go into the keepsake pile. Then, you’ll need to tackle the piles one at a time.
I’m assuming you already have some sort of calendar in your house, on your phone, or some sort of system for keeping track of all your family function, appointments, important dates, etc. Transfer the information you just found on the flyer in the backpack to your calendar immediately and then recycle the paper. If you need to keep track of the address, what you have to bring/send in, etc. try sticking a post-it to your calendar with that extra info. Just getting rid of the stack of papers will make your life feel so much more organized.
Some schools send home schedules and supply lists at the end of the year, some during the mail over the summer, and some even wait until school starts. Hopefully, you know which scenario you are dealing with and can be on the look out for those papers. Anything you need to use over the summer (like supply lists or a summer reading log), should be kept out where you can see it and will remember to do something about it! If you hang them on the fridge or keep them out on the counter you’ll be able to keep an eye on school supply sales and remember to remind your kiddos to read throughout the summer.
Any papers you won’t need over the summer, but will need for back to school should, be stored somewhere safe. I don’t mean somewhere so safe that you’ll never find them again… but somewhere that you will find them immediately after Labor Day. Try getting a red folder, labeling it “Back To School,” and storing teacher assignments, school schedules, sports physical forms, school contact information, etc. all in that folder. Then keep that folder wherever you keep important papers that you don’t lose. This might be your desk drawer, filing cabinet, etc.
This one is going to be hard, because you will have to make a few choices between being organized and being sentimental. (Isn’t that always the battle when trying to get organized?!) Once you have a giant pile of all of their writing, drawings, projects, and creations, you’ll have to narrow it down. Ask yourself: Will this still have meaning in 10 years? A story about your family, a letter to you or to themselves, a drawing of family members, or a record of all the reading your child did will be fun to look back on in the future! These are the papers you want to save. If your kids are older, try to keep items that show all of the work they did (like a reading record) or things they’ve written that show their creativity or worldview. Their essay about bullying will be infinitely more important than a book report.
Once you have narrowed it down, here are some creative ways to hang on to those keepsakes:
Hopefully now you will be able to easily tackle all of the papers coming home! One final hint: even though I’m sure you don’t need anything extra to come home, be sure to ask your child to bring home all of their school supplies. Many schools do a locker or cubby clean out and your child may be throwing away or donating their supplies without you knowing it. If they have gently used binders, unopened index cards, or still have their pack of colored pencils, you’ll likely be able to re-use those supplies for next year. There are lots more tips here for handling end of the school year organizing.