Tuesday, August 25, 2015

To do, To Give Back, and To Keep for Future Reference

With school starting up, papers are starting to flutter like Sycamore leaves across the dining room table.  Whoo! So much paper!

When the boys clean out their backpacks now, there's scrap paper with scrap stuff written on it.  There are classroom worksheets, started earlier in the day and needed for the next time the class meets. There are papers for parents to sign.  There are syllabi. There are agendas, listing all the homework for the day.  There are behavior contracts for the boys, AND their parents, AND the teachers to sign.  There are homework papers that need to be finished and then turned back in to teachers.  There are school photo advertisements.

J-son and N-son have already put together their three-ring binders, dividing some of those papers into the appropriate euphemistically named classes.  Okay, so sorting by subject is a form of organization that kind of makes sense . . . but not entirely . . .  N-son in particular suffers from having so much paper that he can't quite figure out what to do with it all.  And "doing" is probably an equally important way of organizing, especially as far as the kids go.

So last year, for N-son, I made a series of color-coded folders, two for each subject. The colors had psychological associations:  yellow folders for math (Mama is a mathematician, and Mama loves yellow); green folders for Health/Biology (because green=living things?); and so on.  And each color/subject came with two folders: one for "To-Do" items, and one for "Done" items, with the tabs set up "To-Do" on the left, "Done" on the right, to mimic way we read from left to right.  I kept the "Done" folders at home, so N-son had less paperwork to carry and keep track of in his backpack.  He found that so helpful that when I hinted I might to the same this year, he jumped at the idea:  yes please!

Even more, both boys have already, on Day 2 no less, begun shuttling lots of non-class-specific papers that are nonetheless important.  I added stickers to their school folder to distinguish left-side papers from right-side papers:  "To Take Back to the Quaker Local School", and "For Future Reference".  Already, this has helped them keep track of papers they need to turn in, and not to lose papers they'll need to look at in the future.

Happiness sigh.  I don't know if we'll manage to stay on top of schoolwork this year, but at least this feels to all of us like a good way to start.  GoooooOO, Blazers!


  1. The school send home a similar system with DC1, only all in one accordion folder. It must work!

    1. Oh, I *love* accordion folders! For me, at least. For kids who spill syrup in their bags and whose homework etc require regular laundering, not so much -- for that, the modular form with different folders seems to make for easier clean-up. (Why the heck syrup, I do not know. Only one Total-Backpack-Laundering so far this year).

    2. The school must have thought of that because it is 100% plastic. They've even plastic wrapped the stuff that is supposed to stay in the folder permanently.

    3. Well, that's a different kind of oog. Probably "quakers" are more eco-conscious? Or maybe just cheaper.

    4. I have no idea. They are eco-conscious in terms of requesting that students only bring reusable containers (no plastic baggies!) and as few wrappers as possible for lunch. They probably make trade-offs, or maybe different people make the different decisions. (It was nice to be able to give money instead of purchasing school supplies this year-- maybe they got a deal by buying in bulk.)