Closed September 2017

Clutter Video Tip: How to Deal with Kids’ School Papers

Time for pencils, time for books, time for teachers’ dirty looks. Dirty looks? But the school year just started- how do I avoid the dirty looks? Take control of the avalanche of papers that go along with back-to-school by watching this video, and you might just become teacher’s pet.(Click here to watch on YouTube if you can’t see the embedded player. Or watch the video at


Hi, I’m Lorie Marrero and today’s Clutter Video Tip is about school papers. It’s back-to-school time, so I don’t know if you have all the papers coming home yet, but we sure do. So I wanted to talk about all the four different kinds of school papers and how best to handle those.

The first kind is action. Things that require you to do something with them. So those need immediate handling. They are forms to fill out, permission slips to sign, checks that you might need to write and send back to school, all of those things can be pulled out and immediately handled usually in less than two minutes or so, and put into the backpacks right away for the next day.

Then, we have the category of reference. Now, this is the information that you might need to look at later so you want to keep it. And we recommend using what we call a family binder. So it’s just a simple three-ring binder. And we have instructions in our Membership Program on how to put those together for your family. We also have some in our store online so that you can buy one that is already pre-made. It’s perfect for all of those papers that come home that are from the school nurse, about sick day policies, things that are – you know, school bell schedules, school bus schedules, your child’s own class schedule. All those things that you might want to look at including soccer team information or whatever that is, that is quick reference information for your family. That can go in the family binder.

The next category is artwork. So, we have all had the macaroni paintings come home and all the finger paintings and little scribbles. And especially when the kids are younger, you’re going to get a lot of that stuff. What you want to do is have a purposeful gallery in your home for displaying that. And of course everyone thinks of the refrigerator. And that’s a nice place to put a few things. But in might be better to have a larger area. You can use simple ribbon with clothespins to pin across a wall several different pieces of art at one time. And you can get creative in all kinds of other ways to display that artwork and then keep it later possibly electronically. Have you thought about maybe scanning some of that artwork in and making it into a real bound book?  Because that’s easy to do nowadays with some of the services you can find online.

The next kind of paper is called “I don’t know.” It’s the paper you have no idea what it really is – it might be some notes that your child took that they’ve already had a test on and they don’t need anymore. You don’t quite know yet what the policy is for the teacher of what papers to keep or not in a binder, or if it’s already graded homework. This is the solution for the “I don’t know” paper. Having a tray for each child – and these are the ones that we’ve used here in my house for a long time – so each child has a tray and it follows what we call the limiting container principle. So that is, “This is the limit. When this is full, we have to clean it out.” So the container itself provides the rule. And by the time it’s full, you do know what to do with the papers. The child will have some idea, you’ll have some idea, but it’s that place for the ones that you’re uncertain about to give them a home and get them out of the way.

So if you have some issues with school papers, you can get a lot of tips on our Free Tips page. We have a lot of goodies for you there, along with bonus items that you can have when you subscribe to our Newsletter each week that comes out on Thursdays. So you can see that at

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