First sort the papers into three stacks—
- Papers no longer needed (Don’t throw away the trash pile yet…there is another use for it.)
- Papers to “Keep”
- Papers/projects you’d like to keep, but they are a weird size.
Now, here we go!
First, get an expandable binder for the “keep” pile. Make a tab for each child’s past papers and one tab for papers dealing with upcoming events. Now divide your “keep” pile into the binder…be sure to write the child’s name and the date on the papers you keep.
Secondly comes the “We’d like to keep them but…” pile. Does your child want to keep a diorama of a book scene or a huge poster about an animal? Well, here is the idea: Take a picture of it. Then you will always have the “memory” to return to, but the item can leave your house. 🙂 (Honestly, at times I take a picture of their project before they ever take it to school…just in case it gets ruined in transit.)
Third, recycle the “trash” pile by sorting it into papers that only have writing on one side and getting rid of the others. Stack the papers with the writing on only one side and cut them into fourths. Simply take a small stack of the fourths and staple them in the corner. Suddenly you have a note pad. Repeat the process–so you have lots of little notepads. I use them to write notes to teachers, make lists, etc.
Fourth, now return to your expandable binder. Look under your upcoming events tab. Are there papers in there that you will need often…like a sports schedule, the school lunch calendar, reading chart, etc? Well, take those out and hang them with masking tape on the inside of a cupboard or a pantry door. And take a picture of them with your phone for quick reference away from home.
Finally, periodically empty each child’s slot in the expandable binder and transfer the papers into their own “journal” 8 1/2 x 11 binder. I like to put as many papers as possible into a single plastic sleeve and write the school year with a permanent marker right on the outside. It isn’t super pretty, but it is organized!