Whether your child is learning at home, at school, or going back and forth between the two, the shift in routine has created a new brand of chaos. In order to maintain our sanity and make sure those phonics worksheets are turned in on time, parents need all the support they can get to keep their kids’ schoolwork organized. As a teacher myself, here are eight products that my fellow teachers and I recommend for taming all the paperwork.
1. A giant paper calendar
In this digital world, there’s something novel and eye-catching about an actual paper calendar. The bigger the better so that important project due dates and events don’t come as a night-before surprise to anyone (including us parents). I prefer this one because there’s lots of room for big, bold writing.
And while a whiteboard can also do the trick, I’ve also found that dry erase entries vanish a little too easily. Also, school deadlines are unlikely to change. In my house, we use painter’s tape to affix this neutral, no-fuss calendar to the wall.
Get the Cal 2021 Kraft Academic Year Desk Pad at Walmart for $17.99
2. A monster of a binder
A tough binder, one that can take some hard knocks and give a leaky water bottle the hairy eyeball is tops in my book. This three-ring binder not only brings a sense of humor to the situation, it also encourages organization with the included tabs and pencil case. Plus the Z shape allows for multiple storage pockets. It’s useful for all kids, but especially those who are in a hybrid situation in which they are responsible for transporting work to and from school.
Get the Case-it Z-176-ME Monster Eye Zipper Binder on Amazon for $29.99
3. A hole puncher
The binder’s slender cousin is the hole puncher. As a former—deeply disorganized—elementary and middle school student, I know the temptation of folders. “What’s this? A grammar worksheet? A lab report? Eh, I’ll just stick it in a folder.” Cue chaos.
A hole punch keeps a person honest. If something must be hole-punched and placed behind a tab, it forces students to put it in its proper place. I like these because not only do kids get a color choice, they can put them inside their binder.
Get a Bostitch 3-Ring Hole Punch on Amazon for $6.78
4. A file folder for completed work
Does the anguished cry, “But I turned that in!” sound familiar? Sometimes a student is certain they have turned an assignment in but the teacher’s grade book says otherwise. Playing the blame game can be exhausting for everyone. The reality is that students can get overwhelmed, teachers are human beings, technology has glitches, and sometimes papers just plain get lost.
For those kids who are turning in work digitally, teachers recommend a file folder like this one. Keep all turned-in work, filed nicely by subject, until the end of the grading period. If only one primal scream is avoided, it will have been well worth it.
Get a 2-pack of expandable file folders on Amazon for $13.99
5. Stackable storage drawers
These colorful storage drawers should keep all school supplies on hand and at the ready for the hybrid or remote student. It’s important that kids know where their chargers are (extra long cords, please!), their math tools, writing paper, art supplies, white board and markers, and whatever else their teachers have requested they have on hand to make the distance learning experience engaging and smooth.
The drawers are lightweight and easy to open, and colors cue what goes where (though a label never hurt anyone). The fact that you can close them means they remain neat-looking, even when their contents get tangled. Your student can perform a tidy-up at the end of the day and make sure loose items are safely in their place.
Get stackable storage drawers at The Container Store starting at $18.99
6. A checklist
A simple checklist, perhaps the world’s original organizing tool, endures. Perhaps this is because in the act of creating it, we naturally think about time management and goal setting. A checklist can even be helpful for kids too young to write if they dictate it to their parents.
A ritual of writing a checklist in the morning allows parents and kids to set the tone for the day and to discuss what’s important and realistic. Adding a hug or a popsicle break can keep it fun!
Once kids learn the satisfaction of “crossing it off the list”, they will be—as teachers say—intrinsically motivated to do it more. I love this checklist pad by Erin Condren, organizer extraordinaire, because of its pleasing color-coded layout and built-in reward system.
Get the Erin Condren Checklist on Amazon for $11.99
7. The Google Classroom App
For older students, having the Google Classroom App downloaded onto their devices keeps their reminders as handy as their Insta (and “Finsta”) accounts. Now they won’t have any excuse for missing (digital) class.
Download Google Classroom
8. A place for their treasures
Not all clutter is created equal. Whether it’s a stuffed animal, a crystal, a painted rock, a figurine, a medal of honor, or a picture of you, kids need a spot for things that give them comfort, add sparkle, and remind them of their unique personality. A shelf like this will ensure these items don’t interfere with academics, but still get their place of honor.
Get the Decorator Shelf at Pottery Barn Kids for $89
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.