School will be starting in less than three weeks. As it does every fall, my somewhat compulsive need to organize will be kicking into high gear this month, and from the looks of things around here, it's not a moment too soon.
One of my favorite ways to organize for the new school year is actually very simple: a school binder. For me, this is one of the few organization systems that has stood the test of time. I started making an annual school binder when DD entered first grade, and this fall she'll be a sophomore. I like the binder system so much that if I had more than one child, I'd set up a binder for each one. (No, Lily and Tinsel do not yet have their own binders, although I've considered giving them cute little notebooks for their medical records. Altered, of course.)
The school binder is simply a place to house the information we need to refer to throughout the school year. It is not a place for homework, completed assignments, or papers to be returned to school. It's more of a reference manual. In it, you'll find things like lunch menus, school calendars, and information about extra-curricular activities. The tabs for last school year were labeled: Homeroom, Extended Learning Program, Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Show Choir, Piano, Dance, Church, and Mock Trial.
Without this binder, I shudder to think what might happen to information extracted from the backpack. It would likely be lost in one of the myriad piles on our kitchen counter. But with the binder in operation, we have a "go to" place for our most frequently referenced information.
At the end of the school year, I transfer all of the papers from the school binder to a basic "storage binder". The storage binder goes on the shelf in my scrapbooking area. (I refer to the binders from past years frequently when I'm working on school layouts.) To get ready for the new school year, I simply update the cover of the existing school binder and change the tab labels as needed. When papers start coming home en masse during those first few days of school, we'll have a place ready for them.
As the mom of a teenager, I often feel my sense of control slipping away. In my own (DD would add "pathetic") little way, the school binder gives me a tiny bit of control over information. It brings a little order to this otherwise crazy time in our lives.