It’s a question I get all the time and one that has many answers. As I spoke to a group of moms today, I reminded myself that tools support the system. Not other way around. What you do with the school papers is more important than what you put them in or what containers to buy. With that said, here are some ideas and a system that works!!
1. As soon as the kids come barreling through the door, have them pull out their binders, folders, or other papers that they have brought home.
2. While they snack, sort out papers that need signed, reviewed, or returned to school. Separate homework papers that are graded and others that need your review. Any information papers, like flyers, reminders, memos, etc. set aside in a different pile.
3. When your kids are older (like 4th grade and beyond), have them do this process for you.
4. Anything that needs your review OR is an information sheet should go into one place. This place can be for ALL the kids because you are going to review all the papers. Each child should have a pile of graded work and a pile of either worksheets or assignments to be done.
5. You can set up your system to have a pocket file for each child, a pocket for you (the papers from above), and a place to house information only.
Basically you have 4 categories:
- Review (things that need read, signed, and/or returned to school)
- Papers that are information only (calendar dates, flyers, etc.)
- Homework to do
- Graded homework (I keep for one quarter just in case of any questions and then toss when report cards come home)
You can label each pocket with a name or an action (Do, Keep, Read).
When the kids do their homework and you need to review it, they could place it in the “review” pocket, “read” pocket, or “mom” pocket. Either way works.
Lastly, you could do the same sorter system with these cute wire baskets and each basket gets a child’s name, you get one, and you could have a “review” one. What’s more important than the basket or sorter you choose, is WHAT categories you will sort into, WHAT action you will take with each category, and HOW information and papers will get filed or returned.
My favorite tool for many uses is the simple 1 inch, 3-ring binder with a set of tabbed pocket folders. Label each tab with “information”, each child’ name, “graded work”, and whatever else you think you need. Label the whole binder “School”.
Remember that the whole idea is to get the paper out of the backpacks, have a place to put paper you are keeping, and be able to retrieve information when you need it. But the routine should be daily and everyone should know what to do. That way things don’t get overlooked and you are signing papers, reviewing grades, and are updated each day on what’s going on at school.
As your kids get bigger, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Once your system is established, it can be used many years!!