How to Organize Kids’ School Papers
With school-aged kids, it doesn’t take long for the schoolwork, artwork, and mementos to become overwhelming. Almost every day my oldest is bringing home worksheets and artwork, and without a manageable system in place, I felt like I was drowning in paper.
Last month, I finally got a system in place to organize school papers. The inspiration came from Pinterest, and a blog post that I read years ago on IHeart Organizing. I made a few changes to make the system work for our family.
My previous system (if you can call it that!) gave each child one file folder for all artwork and schoolwork that we wanted to save. Needless to say, once my oldest hit kindergarten, that was wholly insufficient! I’m ashamed to tell you that most of their schoolwork and artwork was shoved in our play kitchen’s freezer, simply because it was a convenient place to stash it. That caused more than a few awkward moments when we had friends over to play!
I wanted to put a system in place that was manageable, realistic and didn’t require a ton of upkeep. This one does just that. The best thing about this system is that once it’s set-up it’s DONE for your child’s entire school career. And when they’re fully grown, you have a nice keepsake to give them, instead of a mess of papers.
The SIMPLE system for organizing school papers
The system is simple:
1. Each child has a document box (Canadian link), where we put the papers that we might want to save. Then when it’s full – or at least once a year – I’ll go through it and decide which papers we want to keep long-term. I know I’m not going to keep up on filing regularly, so this gives me an organized central place to put them until I’m ready to deal with them. Plus, I prefer looking at a years’ worth of schoolwork as a whole, as I tend to be a bit more ruthless!
2. For long-term storage, I’ve set up a file box with one file for each child for each grade (I chose to combine all of the daycare years in one folder, but that’s completely up to you!). I’ve put the files for all three kids in the same file box, simply because we’re short on storage space in our house. Over time, we will expand to three file boxes as we need to.
The good news for you is that I’ve done lots of the work for you! I’ve created a set of printables that you can use to set up this system for your own kids.
To make things pretty (and help jog my memory years from now!) I’ve added a simple questionnaire to each folder, with room to attach a small school photo. I kept the questionnaire simple, because with three kids I don’t want to start something that I’m not going to be able to keep up for all three of them! There’s a blue and pink version of the questionnaire. Because I’m a glutton for punishment and I know we don’t all refer to the grades the same way, I also made separate versions for Grade One, Grade Two, etc. and First Grade, Second Grade, etc.
Download the blue First Grade, Second Grade, etc. option here.
Download the blue Grade One, Grade Two, etc. option here.
Download the pink First Grade, Second Grade, etc. option here.
Download the pink Grade One, Grade Two, etc. option here.
(You’ll notice when you open these that I’ve tried to cover off all possibilities for the pre-Kindergarten years. You won’t need to print all of the pages – choose the pages that work best for you.)
I also created very simple file labels, which you can download below. There are two versions, to match the colours of the two versions of the questionnaire. Each version has two sheets, so you can choose either the First Grade, Second Grade, etc. format, or the Grade One, Grade Two, etc. format. These are PDF files, which should work with Avery 6505, and Avery 5366. I highly recommend doing a test sheet first. Make sure your printer is set to the correct paper type, and is not defaulting to fit to page.
Download the blue-grey version here.
Download the pink-grey version here.
What you need
Along with the downloads, you’ll need:
- One (or more) plastic file boxes (this one is the one I used)
- Hanging file folders (mine were from Staples, but these (Canadian link) are similar)
- File folders (I picked mine up at Staples because the specific ones I was looking for were cheaper – these are similar)
- File folder labels (Canadian link)
- A glue stick
- A document box (Canadian link) for each child
I placed one file folder inside each hanging file, with the thought that I would put school papers in the file folder and other mementos (special cards and letters, sports photos, etc.) directly in the hanging folder. That may evolve as we live with the system over time.
I slipped the questionnaire inside the front of each file folder. I highly recommend printing every year for each child now, so you don’t have to worry about it later!
If you use the downloads that I’ve created, this is a project that can easily be completed in a couple of hours (less if you have no schoolwork to sort through!). It’s an incredibly simple project that has had a big impact in our household – I hope it works for you too!