Staying organized can be a challenge for many people…including parents and students. Opening your child’s backpack to complete chaos and clutter is frustrating parent and child. Kids’ backpacks can get messy! Papers can be put in the wrong pockets, left at school, or left at home.
Here are some tips on how to help your child learn to go through their backpack/binders to stay organized! Staying organized is important to reduce paper clutter, which in turn reduces stress and anxiety for you and your child!
First of all, set your child’s backpack up for success!
Use a 3 ring binder whenever possible for grades 7-12
Make sure your child has a 2-pocket folder for each solid class (plastic folders are more durable…just don’t get them with brads)
Get a copy of the class disclosure for each class…this will be the first thing to go on the “done/graded” side of the folder
Label (you can get stick on labels at the store) the front of the folder with the class name, the inside left of the folder “to do/turn in,” and the right side of the folder “done/graded.”
Get small binder clips to use on the “done/graded” side to keep graded papers and class disclosures neat and together
Have a zippered pencil pouch for pencils, pens, sticky notes, highlighters, etc.
Have a planner to write assignments in
Don’t throw away work until the end of the quarter…that is what the binder clips are for
Kids can have a separate spiral notebook(s) for notes….just make sure there is a labeled section for each subject…we don’t want science notes getting mixed up with math notes!
Dump and Go Through Instructions
Have your child’s grades (Powerschool, Gradebook, Skyward, etc) and teacher webpages (ex: Canvas, Google Sites, Office 365, etc) pulled up on 2 separate tabs
Pull out binder from the backpack, making sure to check all backpack pockets and pant pockets for stray papers
Go through one folder at a time, pulling out each and every paper (unless it is already in the binder clip as “done/graded”)
Put papers in correct pockets (while comparing papers you find to Gradebook, Canvas, etc.)
Use binder clips for “done/graded” work
Pull out important notes which you, as a parent, need to look at or sign
Write homework in planner as you go or make a “to do list” on colorful paper
Ask questions about papers (“What is this?” “When is this due?”)
Don’t throw any/recycle any “done/graded” stuff until the end of a quarter….you can pull that stuff out of the binder at the end of the quarter and either recycle it or file it at home
Make sure the backpack is by the front door after homework is complete!
Once you and your child get good at this together, it should only take about 5-10 minutes per day. The best time to do this is right after school. Do this together for the first couple of weeks. Then assess: Is your child able to do this on his own? If so, only do the “dump and go through” with your child every other day and then just once per week.
Your child should still doing it on his own on the days you don’t help (and showing you the end result of a clean backpack and a “to do list” or writing in the planner). The goal is for your child to do this independently and then show you that they know how to do it by himself.
Note that your child should be instructed never to leave papers in class or in their locker. I tell them to, if they are in a hurry, “shove papers in the back pack, zip it up, and organize it when you get home.” Also, papers completed at home should immediately go into the correct folder and put back in backpack.
An organized backpack equals a stress free child and a happy parent!