20 Best Tips

Organizing School Paperwork

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I know it’s practically the end of the year, so how about we consider this a suggestion for organizing schoolwork for next year, ok?

In reality, I lost the SD card that had these pictures on it and completely forgot that I was going to share the idea with you all until I found it the other day {ahem}.

I’ve used this system for the last few years and it has worked great for us so far. If you remember, our kids are color-coded {they each have their own ‘color’ that identifies things that belong to them}. All of our folders are stored in a wire bin and sorted so that I can quickly grab an upcoming {or completed} folder if I need to find something.

It’s a little extra work at the start of school for me, but I take a few hours, pull out all of the workbooks that we will be using for the year, rip out all of the pages and sort them for each kiddo. Truthfully, it saves me a lot of time in the long run since everything we need is divided up and ready to go for each week.

The Method to My Madness

I use six paper pocket folders per child and label the fronts of each folder ~ ones that are pretty cheap. I break the school year up into six 6-week segments {a total of 36 weeks}. The front of each folder is labeled with a name, grade, school year and the 6 week segment that it covers. For example, the front of one of the folders might read:

Weeks 31-36                         


3rd Grade {current grade}

2009-2010 {current school year}IMG_3096

I separate out the worksheets into six piles for the 6-week segments and then further divide them out into weekly piles. Since our writing curriculum {A Reason for Handwriting} is divided out into weekly lessons, it helps me keep track of the week that I’m sorting. Each week’s worth of lessons/worksheets is then paperclipped together {see below}.


Each week includes our handwriting, math worksheets, writing pages, etc…basically anything that was ‘pre-packaged’ and able to be ripped out of a workbook. As we move through our school year, I keep everything that goes along with that six week segment in that specific folder.


At the start of each 6 week segment, I put all of the papers on the left hand side of the folder. Each week’s worth of paperwork remains clipped together until we work on that week. If we add any paperwork during the week {spelling lesson, test, notebooking sheets, etc…} it is sorted into the pile for the week it was completed.

Completed papers are then moved to the right hand side of the folder. At the end of the week the schoolwork papers for that week are all paperclipped back together and moved to the back of the folder. When we’ve worked through a six week segment and the folder is full, the folders are put at the back of the wire bin and I pull out the next six week folder for each of the kids.

At the end of the year, all of our folders are put into a large rubbermaid tub that I keep with all of our school records.  If I need to sort through and find schoolwork for a particular child/particular year, it’s so much easier since I already have things color-coded and sorted out for me.

Make sense? Just wanted to share a little something that is working for us in organizing our school work. Let me know if you have any questions!


Answers to some of your questions

Cindy asked: What do with worksheets that are front and back that you need for another week?

Answer: I usually put it in the week that we complete it. :) I generally write down the page numbers of worksheets that we complete in my planner also, and my planner gets stored with all of our folders at the end of the year.

Allyson asked: I think we’ll probably want to reuse workbooks for a couple of children in order to save money. What would you suggest for that? Do you reuse any of your workbooks or do you purchase new ones even if you have a child that will use it the very next year?

Answer: We do reuse some of our workbooks, but there are some that I realized were just cheaper in the long run to buy and actually use ~ handwriting, etc… Several of the workbooks that I use {Complete Writer} are actually able to be photocopied too, so that’s what I do in that case. If it’s a worksheet that we slip into a page protector {Critical Thinking}, I just record the page number they completed in my planning book.

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  1. What happens if some one is sick or you go on an unexpected field trip. How do you a just?

    • we have a 6 week on, 1 week off schedule that is working great for us so that gives us a bit of a buffer during each ‘semester’. and sometimes there are more things important than another worksheet, or the kids can easily make up the day we missed. :)

    • I typically plan one week off every six weeks , so we always have a buffer during the school year.

  2. Just wanted you to know I LOVE this idea.  I’m going to do this next year for sure.  I’m also highlighting in on layers-of-learning.com on Monday.  Thanks for the great idea!

  3. Thanks so much, Karen. It has been such a big help to me!

  4. That’s funny.  Our kids have been color-coded since birth.  Toothbrushes, notebooks, their towels, all with their personal color.   I love this idea.

  5. stephaniepawley says

    This is a great idea! I think I might so this even though school year has already started. I have those folders and tons of clips so i think it owuld not take a lot of time

  6. Here’s a possible shortcut for you. FedEx Office, Office Max or the like will cut the spines off your workbooks for about $1 stack of the same size. No more tearing out pages! Love your ideas and posts. Thank you for being so faithful in your blogging.

    • I do have the bindings cut off some of our books {I’ve had teacher’s manuals done that way and then pop them into a 3 ring binder to make them easier to use!}.

  7. Amy Duval says

    I haven’t started homeschooling yet; I’m wondering why do you need to keep their completed paperwork throughout the years. Also, why would you need to go back and look at their work a year or more later?

    • Amy – Some families are required to keep schoolwork throughout the year so they can put together a portfolio. Requirements vary from state to state, so one state may require more than another. At this point it hasn’t taken up much room for me to keep our paperwork from the past six years, so we still have it on hand. All of my planners, notes and the kids work is stored in two rubbermaid tubs. Eventually I will weed out work, but I’m a little over-cautious too!! :) I’ll keep some of the more memorable pieces for us to look at later.

  8. What curriculum do you use?

  9. Do u work from the teachers Manuel fo each subject or do you right it out for each individual subject lesson?

    • It really depends on the subject area. Some of the programs that we use {like spelling and science} have fabulous teacher’s manuals, so I work directly from those. :) Some…I wing it!! :)

  10. What do you do if someone needs more or less time on a subject? I would love to start my year out like this, but we always end up far off my plan, because of the material being too easy or too hard.

    • If we are unable to work on it in the time we have during the morning {and need to move onto another subject}, we’ll put it on ‘hold’ until early afternoon when we can focus on it then. :)

  11. Jennifer Sikora says

    This is a great idea! Bookmarking for when I school plan this year.

  12. Hi !
    I worked by weeks too during 1 year, but finally I found it was better to reorganize the work done by field (mathematics, language…)

    Nota – you have a really nice classroom !

  13. Amy Raymond says

    Jolanthe, I think (maybe) that I remember hearing you talk in Spartanburg about how you use something like this folder for organizing some of your paperwork, but I can’t remember how. I have a few from Walmart I used to keep different kinds of paper and worksheets in for my worksheet-devouring preschooler. My current preschoolers are the opposite of that first little worksheet loving preschooler, so I’m looking for new ways to use these nifty folders. Can you share how you use them, if you do in fact?


  14. Amy,

    Here’s a link to what I had talked about: https://www.homeschoolcreations.net/2010/07/our-new-workbox-system-workbook-weekly/
    And thanks for that link to the folders. I hadn’t seen those and they are much closer than the ones I had found recently!! :)


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