Organizing in the Home: School Papers


It’s Fall and by now most families are solidly into the school year.  Children (younger or older) have their classes, their teachers and their schedules, and parents have (hopefully) finally figured out workable before-and-after school routines.   What may not be figured out, however, is what to do with the one thing every school year brings into a home…paper. Lots and lots of school paper.

Some of the paper will be items you, the parent, need to deal with: permission slips, calendar items, and unfinished homework.  Other papers, however, are completed items: artwork, reports, tests, notes, etc.  These school papers are often the ones that stack up, spill over, wind up stuffed into drawers or lost under beds.  These are the finished papers you’re not necessarily ready to throw away.  Maybe your child wants to keep a particular art project.  Maybe you want to keep that particular art project.  But what to do with all the finished papers?  Do you really want the stress of all that paper clutter in your home?

One simple answer is to have a School Memorabilia file box for each child, stored in an easy-to-access location in her or his room, specifically for the finished school papers you both want to keep.

For this organizing project, you will need:

  • A portable, cardboard banker box or large, plastic file box (capable of holding legal-size hanging files folders) for each child
  • 6-8 legal-size hanging file folders in the colors of your choice for each box (Legal-size hanging file folders will better accommodate the longer/larger artwork children sometimes bring home.)
  • Tabs for each file folder

Step One—Identify Your Categories

Gather each child’s current school papers into one stack and then sort into piles to get an idea of categories.  Have your child help you. What categories do they see? Awards? Art? Essays? Good test papers? Grades?  Nice notes?

Step Two—Hang the File Folders in Each Box

Tip: Most hanging file folders have pre-formed fold lines at the bottom.  For easier organizing and storage, bend the file folder along the fold lines to make a box-bottom. The papers will fit much better.

Step Three—Make a Labeled Tab for each Category

Insert each tab into a corresponding hanging file folder.

Step Four—File the Papers…

Tip: Having children help sort each stack of papers into their proper hanging file folder will not only show them how the organizing system works, but let them experience how fun it can be to turn paper chaos into paper order.

Step Five—Actually Use the File Box

The only organizing systems or solutions that work are the ones that are actually used.  And this is a simple system.  From now on, whenever school papers come in the door, the finished school papers are either thrown away or put in the child’s file box.  Once the file box is full, then it’s time to weed out the papers in each category by keeping the best and getting rid of the rest.

Paper clutter can make it difficult to keep a home free of unnecessary clutter. One way of making the organizing process easier is by using the simplest systems possible to deal with finished or completed school papers.  Having a School Memorabilia file box for each child (and having children put their own papers away) will not only help you keep your home free of paper clutter, but will also give your children the opportunity to learn a fun life skill.


Fall is the perfect time to tame school clutter, get more organized AND get your home ready for colder, wetter weather.  Working your way through our step-by-step  Fall Home Maintenance Checklist, for example, can help you and your family stay warm, dry, and safe in the months ahead.

Want an organized, professional home inspector to create your home’s maintenance checklist for you? We can help! Call The Sterling Home Inspection Group at (253) 841-1128 to schedule an Exterior Maintenance Inspection OR a complete Home Inspection today!

by Beverly Pogue

photo by Lindsey Lundholm