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Organizing For School: The Accordion File

By Jennifer Snyder
Part Two of Three

Summer is now on the downhill slide.  Students are reluctant to give up carefree days while parents are most likely looking forward to return of a routine.  In my last article I described the most popular way students are taught to organize their schoolwork and some tips to make it more meaningful.  The binder method doesn't work for every student and in this three-part series I am covering some different methods to try.  This week we are exploring the Accordion File method.

I am pretty sure you are familiar with the accordion file.  This is the stretchable folder that is divided into tabbed sections.  This is a totally different method of thinking than the traditional binder method.  Ideally, one filer could be used for all classes but it would have to be maintained regularly.  It is also possible to have one filer for morning classes and another filer for afternoon classes.  One filer could be used for individual classes as well…whatever works best for the student.

When trying to decide if this system will work for you or your student keep these few things in mind:

  • Determine in advance with your student how many filers you will need.  If more than one filer is desirable, purchase different colors.

  • Filer(s) should come with a cover that can tie or wrap around a button.

  • They should be sturdy and I would strongly recommend getting one with some cardboard reinforcements and laminate coating.

  • Dedicate one section to supplies like paper & pencils as well as class schedules.

  • These are ideal for the more meticulous student as one wrong move and all of the papers are sliding down the hallway.

As with all systems, I recommend assigning a color to each class.  I would recommend the favorite class being the student's favorite color or using logic to assign colors (example: green=science).  It is important to differentiate between handouts and homework to be returned.  To accomplish this, use a coordinating folder that can slide right into the filer (see last paragraph).

This is not my favorite method but is especially useful for the student who resists the binder method for whatever reason.  Most often is a timing issue.  The Accordion Filer method is pretty much a drop-and-go system that eliminates the need for hole-punching and flipping around through a heavy and often crowded notebook.

If you and your soon-to-be star student decide on this method, be sure to work together for the first few weeks to help him/ her get the hang of it.  Make a map or instruction sheet, if necessary.  Eliminate excuses before they are needed.

Note that EVERYTHING won't fit in the filer and that it should be cleared out regularly.  Handouts containing information should be kept in the filer while completed schoolwork should be kept in a separate color-coded folder.  The folder should have two pockets: one for information worthy of studying and one for papers with answers and no questions listed.  This will help locate study materials in a cinch!


Two more organizing bonus tips:

Buy solid color book covers so the books are consistent with the assigned colors.

The looks of school supplies can greatly impact how well they are used.  Even adults use organizing supplies better when they are fun and representative of our personality.  This is not the place to be frugal.


Until next time, have a NEAT day!

Jennifer Snyder, Certified Professional OrganizerÒ
Neat as a Pin Organizing Experts

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