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No More Lost Homework! A+ Ways to Organize All Your School Papers

Between class notes, homework assignments, graded tests, and permission slips, kids’ backpacks and desks can have a way of getting really messy, really quickly once the school year starts. But, with the help of these smart organization tips, you can easily get loose school sheets in order before things get too unruly.

Photography by: Aaron Dyer

1. Load up on folders.


One of the biggest enemies to a neat and organized backpack is that papers can often get carelessly shoved into bag pockets or slipped inside notebooks, only to end up getting creased, crumbled, and lost as a result. But the easiest way to solve this problem is -- not all that surprisingly --folders! Having a designated folder for every subject, or for each day of the week in the case of a rotating schedule, makes it easy to keep everything that needs to be together in the same place, and helps prevent papers from going missing.


For folders that make a real statement, try jazzing up basic two-pocket or file folders with DIY embellishments, like decoupage, stamps, and fabric. You can also create a “built-in” folder right on the inside of any notebook by affixing an envelope -- top flap removed -- to the inside of each notebook’s front cover. 


Get more ideas for keeping things organized on your desk.

2. Get creative with clipboards. 


Sometimes keeping papers packed away neatly in folders isn’t the best option, as may be the case for someone who is especially visual and likes to have everything out in the open to see what they’re working with. A grid of clipboards mounted right onto the wall makes for the perfect way to put stacks of paper on display for easy viewing. Kids can dedicate one clipboard to holding up a to-do list of homework, projects, and other school assignments, while the other clipboards can each represent a different class or subject and keep papers and assignments organized accordingly.


Create the mounted clipboard grid with these steps.

3. Create storage in unlikely places. 


As kids get older, schoolwork and paperwork tend to increase at a pretty rapid rate, making storage solutions that worked in earlier grades pretty inadequate as the years move on. To help make organization a cinch no matter what -- i.e. how much -- school throws at your kids, think about inserting some unexpected storage solutions in an unlikely hiding spot, like inside a bedroom chest. A solution like this keeps all school-related paperwork in perfect order, and does so while keeping everything entirely out of sight until you need it. An office chest like this can also make a great addition to a home office, where it can house all your kids’ different documents, and a few of your own as well, and still have a bit of space to spare.


Create your own office chest with this simple how-to.

4. Use bins for desktop storage.


Since kids’ desks are (ideally) the place where all of their work is done, it’s no shocker that the space has to be kept in neat condition to encourage productivity. To keep papers from piling up and cluttering the workspace, use desktop bins to keep everything in order. Try taking the DIY route and grab an empty cereal box to create this easy-to-make desktop organizer, where papers -- or folders of papers -- can be placed upright on the desk for easy access. This is the perfect way to store graded assignments or past notes all in one place so that they can be used for reference on future assignments, but don’t necessarily need to be handy all the time. Plus, it’s pretty much a given that any organization hack that includes recycling as part of the process is kind of a win on all fronts.


See how to turn your empty cereal boxes into a smart storage solution.

5. Create a “welcome center.


When there are a lot of documents, letters, and other papers coming into the house, it might be a good idea to create a “welcome center” near the front of your door. Basically, this is a spot where a multi-compartment rack may have a single slot dedicated to each person in the household, which can help keep kids’ schoolwork, notes from the teacher, and other papers separate from everyone else’s. Plus, a welcome center is the perfect place to keep things like school permission slips that need some sort of action from a parent. In a way, the welcome center can serve as a kind of visual reminder of any school-related paperwork that needs to get done before heading out the door in the morning.


And even if a full-on welcome center isn’t quite for you, it could be a good idea to just have some kind of “in-box” to make it easier for kids to keep their papers together and separate from other stacks in shared spaces, like magazines and mail.


Get more ideas on how to get the most out of your entryway.