Now that school is back in session, I’m finding myself, once again, flooded with mounds of paper. Lots, and lots, of paper.
With three kids in school – one in 1st grade, one in 2nd, and my oldest in 4th, I am already feeling a little overwhelmed with the sheer volume of stuff that comes home. There are homework sheets, Scholastic Order forms, newsletters, random things that might be homework, might be leftover classwork, or could just be random busywork. Half the time – okay, really, more than half – my kids can’t tell me what it is.
So, there is all this paper, and three different sets of homework expectations to manage. Six different teachers – because my kids are all in language immersion, they have an English language teacher and a Mandarin teacher for science and math – there can be an intense amount of information that comes home on a weekly basis.
I obviously cannot stop the flow of incoming paper. I need a way to reasonably organize and manage it, and also teach my kids some valuable organizational skills along the way.
Keep it Simple!
Step 1: Quickly Sort Incoming Papers
As soon as my kids come home from school, we go through the communication folder and pull out all the paper. With each child, I go over what’s in there, identify its level of importance, and separate into two piles: trash and look at later. The sooner you can do this after school, the more likely your child will actually know whether or not said paper is of importance, and what exactly needs to happen with it.
**Side Note: Art that comes home definitely goes into the “look at later” pile but a solid 95% goes into the trash when kid is not looking. I keep the things I can tell took a lot of effort, or I find particularly amusing.
Step 2: Find or Create Space for the Keepers
Organization. For this, I turned to Google and Pinterest, and am sharing the most workable solutions with you.
At first, I found these beautiful, amazing #goals, command centers. But let’s be honest here. There is an upfront time and money investment when establishing these, and I am too cheap and too lazy to start and actually stick with these things.
I did get my kids each one of these:
They were each around $3 in the Target Dollar Spot. In these bins I put their English translation of their math workbook, and any other “keep” or “return to school” papers that I might need to reference. Homework can also go here.
I also intend to add a cork board for each kid for the papers I want to reference, like field trip information, important dates, etc.
That’s it. – Step One, quickly sort incoming papers – most of which will directly go in the trash – and Step Two – find or create a place for the keepers.
My motto when it comes to this kind of thing, is to keep it simple. I want my kids to be able to follow these steps on their own as they get older, and for organization to not be a major chunk of their time management. Organization will save them time in the long run, but the more complicated we make it, it is too hard to keep up with, and we end up giving up altogether.