Neat & Simple Tips for Preventing School Paper Clutter!


It’s almost Back to School Time! Each new school year presents a fresh organizing challenge. How do you manage the constant flow of paper work – tests, homework, schedules?

Here are some tips to help you design a system to keep school paper organized and under control.

Set guidelines for what to keep and what NOT to keep UP FRONT. The best way to keep paper under control is not to keep too much of it in the first place. [LG]Here’s a great wicker file box![/LG]

Deciding up front what to let go of will:
o teach your child how to think ahead and clarify what’s important.
o make it easier for your kids to make decisions independently.

Some examples of guidelines include: When a new schedule comes in, recycle the old one. Keep exams & homework only until the report card for the term has been received. Extra Special Reports and Projects should be place in the school archive.

Set up a school memorabilia archive. This will give a home to all the papers work that you and your child really want to keep, but don’t need to refer to on a regular basis.

Once you have an archive set up, you will also have a home for some of those papers cluttering your fridge and kitchen counters! Store the archive in a closet or other location that is out of the way but still accessible to you and to your child. I recommend using waterproof containers with lids to keep papers clean and safe.

Create a simple hanging file system for current papers.
o Include a hanging file for each class, activity, and personal interest.
o Keep extra files on hand to make it easy to create a new file for any new projects that may come up during the year.
o Use your child’s favorite colors and involve them in choosing supplies. One way to use color meaningfully is to use one color for classes, one color for activities, and another color for special interests. Alternatively, all the organizing supplies for a given subject could be the same color, e.g., the binder, notebook and files for science class might all be yellow.

For younger children, you can do the filing and they can take responsibility as they grow up. After each report card is received is a great time to clean out the files with your child and choose only a select few of the very best examples of their work to keep in their school archive.

Establish a weekly routine for cleaning out their backpack. Help your kids establish the habit of cleaning out their backpack on Sunday evenings by doing it with them.

This is a great way to teach them to plan ahead and start the week organized. Have them empty their backpack completely and only put back what they absolutely need for the next week.

May this school year be your best ever!
By Ariane Benefit
Neat & Simple Living


29 thoughts on “Neat & Simple Tips for Preventing School Paper Clutter!

  • August 1, 2007 at 8:41 am

    These are excellent tips for parents with school-aged kids. One more thing I did when the amount of “artwork” became overwhelming: After a suitable display period, I took photos of their creations so that I didn’t have to keep all the paintings, collages, etc. If I’d saved the originals, I’d need a second basement!

  • August 1, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    Folders are a kid’s best friends. Artwork in one, great reports in another, and report cards to keep in yet another.

  • August 1, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    Donna & Shama: Thanks for stopping by and contibuting your great ideas!

  • August 1, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    You can also have the child choose a few special people to give their extra creations to (paintings, drawings, etc.) or they can be used to wrap gifts from the child.

  • August 8, 2007 at 8:17 am

    Each of our children has a clear storage box where we keep selected ‘treasures’ from their elementary/middle school days. As the older two have moved onto high school, each child has a pocket folder where we keep report cards, special writings, etc.

  • August 8, 2007 at 8:44 am

    These are great ideas! My oldest starts preschool next week and I was wondering what I was going to do this all of this projects. Thanks!

  • August 8, 2007 at 10:38 am

    All wonderful ideas! Thank you so much for contributing!

  • August 8, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    Great Ideas!!! Each year I start off really well with controlling the school-paper-clutter. You’ve given me a few ideas to hopefully allow me to keep control throughout the year!

  • August 8, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    Great ideas! Now, let’s see if I can put it into action. 😉

  • August 8, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    This is wonderful. My son has just started preschool, and I hope to tackle organizing his things before it gets out of hand. Thanks!

  • August 8, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    I love these ideas. I can really save money on wrapping paper this christmas!

  • August 8, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    Thank you all for your great comments! I hope you put these ideas into action and let us know how they worked for you!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • August 9, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    I really like the idea of teaching kids how to organize their own things and determine what is importnant to keep and not keep. Great ideas!

  • August 9, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    I have a question…what do you reccomend for saving yearbooks? I have all of my yearbooks (K-12 wow!) and am wondering if I should keep them. Now my kids are acquiring yearbooks as well and I want to teach them what the best way is to handle them. Thanks!

  • August 10, 2007 at 8:38 am

    When my daughter was in elementary school we were just overwhelmed with paper…mainly because I had to save all her accomplishments! These are some great tips!!!

  • August 10, 2007 at 10:01 am

    Another idea for your child’s artwork: string a colorful cord across one wall and create a gallery of his/her artwork using colorful clips. Or store artwork in a picture frame with the most current piece in the front for all to see!

  • August 12, 2007 at 2:35 am

    I understand this all too well – but from ‘the other side!’
    I teach 8th grade reading/writing and I know that as a teacher I could use some help in classroom organization.


  • August 12, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    I’m glad you’ve been invited to join the ranks. I look forward to all the great posts here.

  • August 12, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    Great ideas! We also have used a cord strung corner to corner in my son’s room and colorful clips to display his artwork; the 3M hooks work wonderfully for these too! My son has Asperger’s syndrome and ADD and either had a hard time making decisions or impulsively throws something out that he is desperate for later. So, we have adopted a “3-month box” (our report cards come every 3 months, so it works out well). We look at all the papers from the current grading period, cull the things that can obviously be recycled, and put the rest in the 3-month box. About a week before the next report card, we pull out the 3-month box and look again; this time, we are able to tell what actually feels important to keep, and the rest goes to recycle!

    We also take digital pictures of artwork and papers and send the originals off to grandparents & great-grandparents who live out of state. It gives him a chance to learn about the mail, the importance of sharing life with family, and he often gets return mail from them!

    Congrats and good luck on the new blog!

  • August 13, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    I wish I had done these things growing up. I’ll use these tips when I have kids in school. I really like the idea of setting up the archive/memory box BEFORE the memories start for the year so they have a home and clutter doesn’t have as much of a chance to appear.

  • August 15, 2007 at 9:09 am

    Great ideas!! With a son entering Kindergarten, I want to be organized to help him as he grows. One idea that we have is a cork wall in his room that we can rotate all of his school artwork on.

    Great new blog!!

  • August 24, 2007 at 3:29 am

    i am realy greatful to this website to help me give a good presentation in my school. than you so much

  • September 9, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    These are great!

    I have a hanging file with items from the current year. Then for each of my children I have a plastic file storage box with a hanging file for each school year. I am limited to what will fit in the hanging files for each year and it all fits nicely in one box per child. Eventually, each child can take their box with them.

  • April 24, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    One thing I have done is to have an art gallery on my kitchen wall. After the child’s art has hung there for a while there are some that just fade into the background and others that I never tire of looking at. Those are the ones I keep.

    My oldest is a teenager now and her under-the-bed storage box only holds those very special projects. Even though she is almost grown, it is all very manageable.

    Everything saved is something I enjoy very much.

  • April 27, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Thank you all so much for your comments. We love hearing all your great ideas!


  • September 25, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    As a mom and a teacher, I’m so thankful you stressed cleaning out the backpack!

    However, when kids get into middle and high school, parents shouldn’t throw papers away from binders kept for school unless the teacher has told the students they won’t need it again. I’ve had this happen, and it’s frustrating when a student needs a paper that’s not there because the mom was trying to clean things out.

    Otherwise good suggestions, though. I have these cool art portfolios that I have kept with special artwork since they started school. It’s a handy and convenient way to keep it, and the portfolios come in various sizes and are readily available at any hobby or craft store, even the big chain stores.

    Forgetfulone’s last blog post..What I Thought of The Women

  • March 1, 2009 at 11:57 am

    the posts i have read on this site/blog are good. my concern has to do with college and graduate paperwork. i have my work clearly marked and organized in binders (20 of them!), but now what? that’s a lot of space i don’t have now or risk damage by putting them in the unfinished basement. our family is expanding. i need to address this soon. any suggestions? thanks.

  • March 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    These are neat tips! I always end up with boxes of paper by the end of the year. This should be a good way to keep clutter away.

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