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Organizing For School: The Three-Ring Binder

By Jennifer Snyder
Part One of Three

As frustrating it is for parents to have disorganized children, imagine how frustrating it is for the kids.  We all think and operate differently, what may come easy to a parent may be nearly impossible for the kids.  My home is a perfect example…not a single one of my three children (nor my husband) organize the same way I do.  We all think differently so if I want my house organized, I have to do it and welcome being the one who knows where everything is.  Even for me, helping my kids organize their rooms and schoolwork is a chore indeed!

As we approach the tax season for kids: Back to School; I am going to explore three different approaches to getting school-age kids and teens organized.  The first is The traditional three-ring binder.  Share these with your kids and let them choose which one is most meaningful to them.  You will be surprised what happens when you get them involved in the process!

Organizing schoolwork in a three-ring binder is the classic style, utilized for decades and is the standard go-to method for teachers teaching kids to be organized.  Here are a few bullet points to take shopping with you.

  • Be large enough to accommodate everything that will live in it

  • Be sturdy enough to at least last until winter break

  • Be divided using colored tab dividers (the word color  is most important)

  • Have pockets on the inside & preferably a clear zip pocket on the outside

With this system, you want to assign 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).  Each subject should have two (yes, two) dividers; one for handouts and one for homework.  Purchase some colored notebook paper to place in the homework sections t serve as a homework journal: if they don't have a handout, the assignment can be written on the colored paper.

The front window pocket should be used to personalize the notebook.  Schoolwork is lame and a fun binder will add a little spice and personal ownership of the contents.  The back window should be reserved for the business end of school: schedules, notes to go home, calendars, etc.  The pockets inside the binder are going to be holding areas.  They should be totally dedicated to papers needing holes punched.

If you and your soon-to-be star student decide on this method, be sure to purchase a hand-held hole punch to live in the backpack.  Then take the time to demonstrate how to use an existing paper as a template for punching.  No excuses needed.

Note that EVERYTHING won't fit in the binder and that it should be cleared out regularly.  Handouts containing information should be kept in the binder 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 folders and dividers.

  • 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.  Be frugal elsewhere.


Until next time, have a NEAT day!

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

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