Two kids in school -looking for strategies to control paper chaos

annab6March 23, 2007

Paper clutter problem here...

I have two kids who are both in elementary school. There just seem to be an endless flow of paper from school to home. I do try to throw out obvious junk right away but there is still a lot that need to be kept around for a while. There are also fundraising papers, letters from dance school, girl scouts ect. There is also homework which is "in progress" for a period of time and tends to spread out.

Another issue is that my children really like paper-based activities - drawing pictures, making restaurant menus, "pretend" class lists, origami etc. Once they have created their masterpieces they woudn't let me throw them out claiming it was a lot of work and they would use them again. But they of course forget and make more the next day.

I work full time but can generally keep up with clothes, dishes, etc. However, having real trouble with all this paper in my living room.

I know it can be managed somehow. Can someone in a similar situation share some tips?



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Below is a link to a thread we had last fall. Lots of good ideas there.

The biggest thing is finding a designated spot for those school papers. Something which works for how you live. I have a bookcase type area right next to the fridge. That's where I keep my daily "to do" stuff and it's where I pile those papers I can't get to immediately. Our family calendar is right there also.

Homework either goes right back in their backpacks or it is is a weekly stash, it goes in their rooms. No one may leave that stuff in the public areas of living room or dining area. Same with craft projects. If they love it so much, then it must live in their room. And since they don't let their rooms pile up, they purge it after a couple of weeks.

Make your living room a paper free zone. Stick with the putting things away every evening. It will take a while of you following up, but it could be habit by the end of this school year. Get those designated places set up. Make sure they really have a place for their backpacks, homework, etc.


Here is a link that might be useful: Back to school clutter

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 1:39AM
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I haven't gone back to read the thread so I apologize if these are duplicated.

A folder for every child: Got this from a friend, a light bulb moment. I use the kind that have a pocket on each inside flap. Mine hold, class schedules, sports schedules(also put on the calendar as needed) progress reports, eye examine prescriptions, summer camp brocheres, teacher names, classroom rules, student handbooks, etc, Anything that pertains to that particular child as far as paper (not important documents like birth c) that we may need or I am considering in the next several months. You could also store immunization records here. I love these. I have 3 children, only 1 at home. I still use this system for my older kids. A tuition bill, stray mail that can be handed over, list of doctors, SAT scores. The folders are in a verical sorter on the top shelf of a kitchen cabinet. If you use this system you need to figure out whether you want it easily accessible to your kids. Every once in awhile I sort thru and discard unneeded papers. My typical response to a query is "Look in your folder"

Cubby or even a MAILBOX: Works in progress, papers back to school. Younger kids love having a mailbox. You can set them on a shelf.

If you are so inclined, try to influence the school as to how they distribute paper. Several schools we have been in have picked ONE DAY. A large manilla like envelope with ALL the fundraising hassles, letter from principal, school newsletter, and in lower grades, communication from teacher, lunch order forms, child specific library fines, etc., etc. I know that on Wednesday I'll be getting the envelope. I can either deal with it then or have everything ready by launch time on Thursday. I think most parents are THRILLED to only have one day to sort thru all those forms. If you want more details on how our school works the system, let me know.

A display area: A large bulletin board, refrigerator door, steel door to garage, etc. Each child gets one or an area of one. THEY rotate the things they are proud of. When the space is filled, then ... you keep, or toss. I remember tossing after the fact. I only got caught a couple of times!

Good luck. This is a fun stage but sometimes so overwhelming. It does go quickly.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 9:00AM
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annab, are you me?

Those are my kids, honest--they are. Right down to the menus, and the signs, and the pretend class schedules for dragon school! They race the Hot Wheels cars, and keep a record of "who" (which car--usually the Golden Bee Snake) won, etc.!

I kept a few of the menus, etc., but threw out the rest when they weren't looking. As you say, they don't miss them. And I simply can't keep them all. I got a SchoolFolio to keep artwork and some of the other keepsake-type stuff--it slips behind the dresser, and I just stick things in there, separating for each kid.

Otherwise, I've just gotten so that I designate a place for stuff that I *think* they need to keep, and just chuck stuff in it.

Our kids' first school used these neat-o folders to send stuff home; one side was labeled "take home" and the other, "bring back to school"--so homework they were working on (projects, etc.) used to "float" in the "bring back to school" side. That helped a lot. It doesn't work as well w/the new school, but it helps a little even just to think of it like that.

I also try to take care of the picture forms, field-trip forms, etc., IMMEDIATELY--and send them BACK immediately. That helps a lot--no keeping track of it in my home. Write the info on the calendar, throw the paper away, whatever. But deal with it NOW! That's a HUGE help.

I *love* that idea about sending all the forms, etc., on one day--I wonder if my kid's teacher would do that with tests to be signed, too? I may bring this up--thanks, tre3!

But I haven't completely conquered it--we still lose papers, or still trip over them.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 12:43PM
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I keep a 3 ring binder in my kitchen, AND a 3-hole-punch. I have a tabbed section for each school, each sports team, etc. Anything that has to be kept goes right in there, in the appropriate section. At the beginning of each month, purge out what you don't need any longer. I've done this for years and it has been invaluable! If I can't remember what time the school open house starts, if I ordered the yearbook, etc. I look right in there. It's important to keep a 3 hole punch (they are under $5)right with the binder, or you'll just end up with another stack of papers to 'punch'.

As to the art projects, could you give each kid a trunk of some kind, that would somewhat match the decor of the living room? All supplies, including projects in progress could be kept there.

I also keep two banker's boxes in my kitchen (stashed under a desk counter top). One for each kid. All thru the year, any papers/projects I *might* want to save go in there. At the end of the year, I go through it and whittle it down to about 10%.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 2:14PM
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TalleySue in the lower grades that is just what they do. A packet (just pages stapled together) goes home on a certain day. You KNOW to ALWAYS expect it on that day. It does not come home with the "school envelope". That way you have time to review all the work from that week and sign. It is also a time to write a note to teacher or ask questions. Of course, if your child is struggling or there are other important issues, you may always contact the teacher. My daughter will be leaving middle school next year. I wish they STILL sent home a packet. Getting middle schoolers to share info is like pulling teeth!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 3:56PM
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