How to Start the School Year Strong


It’s that time of year. School is starting and the piles of paper start getting higher. Eventually, you can’t find what you are looking for, and you can’t remember if any of it is important! This happens to the best of us. 

Here are some tips that can help your child organize and develop those executive functions. 

1. Information you need during the entire school year

Assuming you already have some sort of calendar in your house, on your phone, or some sort of system for keeping track of all your family functions, appointments, important dates, etc. Transfer the information you just found on the flyer in the backpack to your calendar immediately and then recycle the paper. If you need to keep track of the address, what you have to bring/send in, etc. try sticking a post-it to your calendar with that extra info. There is something cathartic about getting rid of the stack of papers; it will make your life feel so much more organized.

2. Information you need for the future beyond this school year

Try getting a red folder, labeling it “Back To School,” and storing long-term projects, school schedules, sports physical forms, school contact information, etc. all in that folder. Then keep that folder wherever you keep important papers that you don’t want to lose. This might be your desk drawer, filing cabinet, etc.

3. Keepsakes

This one can be challenging because you will have to make a few choices between being organized and being sentimental. Once you have a giant pile of all of their writing, drawings, projects, and creations, you’ll have to narrow it down. Will this still have meaning in 10 years? A story about your family, a letter to you or to themselves, a drawing of family members, or a record of all the reading your child did will be fun to look back on in the future! 

Once you have narrowed it down, you can use one of these creative ways to display those keepsakes:

  • Display the artwork of the season on your wall. Rather than taping up as many pieces as you can fit, designate a spot where you can create an art wall and set up a beautiful display that is permanent, and you can rotate the artwork in and out. This can be done with pretty or decorated clipboards or with fishing line, clips, and painted frames.
  • For things you want to keep but don’t need to display, you can use old pants clothes hangers and big zippered bags to create a hanging system you can easily store. You can organize these by child, by year, or however works for you. Be sure to label the zippered bag in Sharpie with the details.
  • Make yourself an envelope book using 9×12 envelopes, ribbon or string, and some cardboard for covers. You can then store any keepsakes in the envelopes and label them with the child’s name, year, etc.  
  • Scan in all of the artwork you love to your computer and have a photo book made. This will take a little bit of time, but you will save on space, headache, and not have to get rid of as many pieces. This might be a great choice if you have a harder time narrowing down what to keep. 
  • You might just go for the good old fashioned file cabinet, binders, or bins full of keepsakes, but be careful with these as they can tend to become a dumping ground for artwork you can’t bear to part with! Try deciding how much space you want to allow, and then sticking to it. If you want to add new things, find some old things you are ready to let go.
Lena Liu