Find what you need, when you need it -- How to gain control over school papers

It always surprises me how much paper is sent home from school on a daily basis. This includes:

  • homework sheets
  • permission slips
  • newsletters
  • school handbooks and informational sheets
  • students’ class notes
  • graded tests and projects
  • students’ completed classwork
  • drawings and paintings

Spending the time and effort to create a system for handling the constant flow of paperwork and a routine for maintaining it will benefit you and your child. You both will be able to find what you need when you need it and not waste time and energy in the process!


First your child goes through his papers. Note, I’ll be using the masculine form throughout for ease of reading.

Have a designated folder where he puts the papers that need to go from school to home.

Review the folder each day and determines which papers:

  • need to go back to school – homework sheets
  • need to go to a parent for review – permission slips, newsletter, informational material, completed work, artwork
  • need to be kept at home for later use – completed study guides and notes needed for mid-term or final exams
  • can be tossed

Designate a spot at home for each of these types of papers. Young children can divide them into two types: papers to go back to school and papers to go to mom and dad.

Next, it’s your turn to go through the papers that your child needs you to review.

Have a designated spot (inbox) for the papers.

Review the papers each day. You’ll need to determine which ones:

  • need to go back to school after your review
  • need to be kept handy for frequent use
  • need to be put away for the future – artwork, classwork, and projects that are really special
  • can be tossed – most classwork, artwork, and projects that won’t be needed again during the year

Designate a spot at home for each of these types of papers so that you can quickly put the papers where they belong.


Once you’ve created the system, you and your child will need to establish a daily routine that includes what time each day the papers should be reviewed and what to do if a decision can’t be made for where a paper should go. In the beginning and depending on your child’s age, you may need to help him as he sorts through the papers or remind him to do it with your goal being to gradually transfer the responsibility to him.


To make any system and routine successful, involve your child as much as possible in generating ideas and making decisions, be willing to put in time and effort in establishing the routine, and be flexible and change anything that’s not working well.

Have a great school year!