How Do You Organize All That Incoming School Paperwork?

Updated on August 04, 2010
M.O. asks from Barrington, IL
11 answers

I am trying to get organized before school starts. I am wondering what tips you Moms have for keeping your home decluttered from all that school paperwork - permission slips, arts n crafts, homework (to be done, and completed), mail, etc.

We don't have a lot of extra space for a portable set of drawers. I do have some bookshelf space for some bins or "in" boxes of sorts.

I'd love your ideas and solutions for getting organized, keeping things in their place, cleaning out the paperwork so it doesn't pile up, and overall having our "main" floor looking nice and neat while still being practical for two small school aged children.

MANY thanks!

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answers from Chicago on

We just recently bought my daughter a hanging organizer. It has big folder size pouches (3 of them) it hangs next to her computer desk. (my daughter is 28 lol this is for her children's paper stuff) in it she keeps the stuff that needs to be saved. once a month they go through it and keep/file or pitch. as for the stuff you need to handle on a daily basis. We do that at the kitchen table and handle it right then. don't let it pile up. if its a permission form sign it and back into the bag it goes. book orders do or recycle. hang calendar on the fridge. just don't let it pile up take care of it just like junk mail recycle it immediately. We kept a plastic storage bin in the garage for years that we saved special art work, poems, stories and special assignments in. funny how years later they look through them and say oh I didn't know you kept that..

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answers from Washington DC on

Anything that needs signed gets a signature and put right back in the folder. Same with homework. It gets completed immediately and then right back away. Permission slips go on the calendar and refrigerator, and completed work goes in a basket I keep on my island. The kids get to pick what we keep and what goes in the trash. We can't keep it all, so they get to make the choice :). I need a better system for this year though!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

When my kids were younger, it worked like this:
When they come in, I ask for the papers and the notices. I hang the 1 or 2 papers they are most proud of on the fridge and ditch them the following week. The rest gets tossed... It sounds cruel, but we can't save everything. If there is something from art that is wonderful, I put it on my dresser until I find a frame or 5 min. to dig out a frame....
The notices get read immediately and important dates get put on the calendar. Anything that needs to be filled out and returned gets done while the kids are doing homework. It then gets put right back into the backpack.
Rubrics for future papers get placed in a basket in the dining room where they do their homework. I go through that daily to be sure we are keeping up with what has to be done. Flashcards for multiplication tables, etc. get stored there as well.
Now they are in high school. I get most of my information from the website. Important paperwork comes in the mail, gets filled out, and I either send it back with one of the kids or bring it when I go to the school for something else... I'm always down there for something!
They are both organized - the teachers require it at that age, so I have very little to keep track of. If they have a big project, I put a note on the calendar and ask how it's going every couple of days.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Here's what I do:

I ask for the folder when my daughter comes home. Anything that needs to be signed or filled out get done immediately and goes right back into the folder. Anything that we need to remember (e.g. upcoming school events), information or schedules gets tacked up to a bulletin board we have up between our dining room and kitchen. Once the event is over or info no longer needed, I throw it out. I look over all of her other school work and let her decide which ones she needs/wants to keep - those go upstairs in a drawer in her room or into another folder. Everything else gets thrown away. If she has something she's particularly proud of or done really well on, I'll tack it on the bulletin board for a week or two - then it either goes into her room or thrown away if she doesn't want it.

I also do not allow homework, backpacks, lunchboxes, jackets, uniforms, sneakers, etc. to linger out anywhere. All of it needs to be put away somewhere. (My daughter has a tendency to just throw stuff down at the front door or leave everything out on the kitchen table and then everyone is stepping over it or pushing it out of the way so I've had to put a stop to that!)

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answers from Chicago on

I took some counter space in my kitchen and put together a command center. Bought "inbox" stackable bins for each family member, me, husband and each child. Anything that needs my attention goes in my bin. Also have a one week wipe off board for writing weekly schedule.
The inboxes are nice b/c my husband knows to check it for stuff he needs to see.

I recycle most of the artwork. Save important stuff like hand prints, or something I want to save. If I'm not sure, I'll take a picture of the art project. Am in the process of taking all the pictures and making a book on Snapfish. Much better than keeping all that stuff.

Also have a plastic folder with several pockets where I separate items that need to be filed and shredded.

Organization is a constant battle, so this is by no means THE way to do it, but it has helped.

Good luck!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I am done with that and saved only the most beautiful or fantastic or colorful items. Other than that, throughout the years, look first thing at what is inside after school, sign things right away and put them back, get your bins or whatever and put somethings in for about a month (just in case it gets called back for some reason) then throw out. And always, always check for squished bananas at the bottom.

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answers from Chicago on

I am a teacher and a mom, so I'm always working on trying to stay organized. The latest thing that works for me at home is I bought some "paper boxes" from Ikea that have lids and put them on a shelf in my kitchen with the labels "MAIL" , "COUPONS", and "SCHOOL PAPERS". That way all of the papers that come into the house are tucked away neatly until I have time to deal with them.

For your kids' school work, I would say you certainly cannot keep everything, but also do not want to throw away everything! For special projects that you want to save, you can get one of those art portfolios from a craft store for each child, or I use an under-bed storage box. I highly recommend that you save some of their stories and writing or any research projects they do at school (I know how hard kids work on this stuff and that they are very proud to take it home to share with parents, so it makes me sad to hear that some parents throw EVERYTHING away). Daily homework and worksheets that come home constantly can of course be recycled after looking through it and maybe talking to your child about what they learned, or display one piece from each child on the fridge for the week to show off a job well done. As kids get older, I know some people who have started a binder for each child and they select certain papers, stories, tests, etc. that they want to save in the binder. When they get older, it will be fun to look back at their early work and see how far they've come!

For papers that need to be returned to school, you can either have a bin for "Complete and Return" OR you can keep it in the child's folder (if you're good about going through it every day) and that way it won't be forgotten in the bin at home.

Have a great (and organized) school year!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I can't wait to read your responses. I am the same way. There are so many papers sent home from school. I always have a pile of papers on my computer desk. I started adding dates to my Outlook calendar so I get a pop-up the night before the field trip or before my daughter needs to bring something into school. It works unless I need to find a paper in that big pile to send in :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Redding on

Check the backpack every day. Hang artwork or papers that say "great job" on the refrigerator and alternate as it comes in. I saved really special stuff in a storage box.
Fill out any permission slips right away and put them in the backpack to be taken back to school. Keep dates and events marked on a calendar.

I happen to have a metal front door and I found that putting things on it with magnets was a great reminder for things that needed to be remembered.
They were the first thing we saw as we went out the door each time.
It might sound crazy, but it works. As a single mom who worked and raised two kids, the door thing was a great help because even the kids could put b-day invitations, permission slips or whatever on the door and there was no way they could get misplaced or forgotten. It was our reminder place.
It might seem a little unconventional, but it worked for us, and as a mom, I never cared what people thought of us having things on our door.

I hope you get some great responses!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Folders for each class.
Over the door organizer (there are many different kids pick what you like best)... each pocket a different day of the week. So put homework that is due that day in the pocket, kid & you check to see if it is done or if the premission slip is signed.
Could do "in" "out" stackable filing system... if you have enough room for Mon-Fri I have found it works really well to put paperwork in the file they are due. Have it easily reachable for the kids so both you and the kid(s) can look in it. (if you have more then one maybe each kid gets a file and put a post-it note on when it has to be done).



answers from Augusta on

anything that 's just a worksheet gets thrown out immediately.
Then if there's artwork this week thats better than last week they get put in a bin.
permission slips get signed right away and put back in the folder.

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