I have two great kids, and both of them are in high school. At their high school, the kids carry around their backpacks. Last year, they needed a 1-inch binder for each subject, and my poor son carried around five binders and two folders that were never used except to hold a spiral notebook and the pockets (filled to the brim of handouts and tests all jammed into one). By the end of the year, when he had to gather his papers to review for finals, he was so overwhelmed that he never decided again. We needed a better way for him to manage all the papers so he can refer to them at the end of the school year.
So, to help him organize his backpack, we decided to do something different this year. Here is how we created his bag organization.
First, we determined how many sections (tabs) would be needed for each subject. This is what we came up with.
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For English and German
For European History and Algebra II
For Chorus and Health
A Folder with pockets and loose leaf paper attached in the center.
We washed his backpack from last year. This bag lasts two years, and we keep buying them because they are durable and can handle a boy.
The key to successful paper management is to have an easy system to maintain & retrieve.
Then, I found these backpack accordion folders with six tabs and seven spaces from Target. I used a black marker to write the sections on the tabs inside the accordion folder for each subject. I used the label that came with the accordion folder and folded two of the labels together so it wouldn't slide out when the accordion folder turns on its side. It's so annoying when a tab slides out of an accordion folder.
I labeled each accordion folder in the front and on top with 1-inch label maker labels. As a Professional Organizer, I have a professional label maker, but if you do not have this, you can write the subjects on tape and make your labels.
We then placed the accordion folders in the backpack in order of his schedule so my son would first use the front section in the morning and the second section in the afternoon. Here is how it looks from the top.
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The front smaller pocket became his pencil case. This section holds his calculator, pens, pencils, erasers, dry erase markers, index cards, and stick notes. By the way, the index cards are in a small index card spiral notebook so he can tear them out and they don't get lost in the pocket.
This entire setup took one(1) hour. It didn't take long and hopefully; this secure system will help him throughout the year.
At the end of each semester, we store the older semester paper into a large accordion folder. This accordion folder stays home in his study area. And, at the end of each marking period, he will take those papers and organize them by the subject and by handouts/worksheets and quizzes/tests. So, hopefully, this will help him find the appropriate documents he needs to review for the finals at the end of the year.
I hope this gives you some inspiration on how to organize your child's backpack. I will update this post from time to time with the process of how he is maintaining his backpack. Come back and often visit to see if he can keep it organized. Let's continue the conversation. If you have any questions about paper management, please leave it below. I will do my best and reply as soon as possible.
Wow, students have to carry a lot more stuff than when we were kids! I'm impressed with the system you came up with.
These are fantastic ideas! I think your post should be included in every schools', "Supply" list. Kids academic performance increases with organization. Knowing exactly what items are and where items are located reduces a lot of a child's school stress and anxiety.
I love the idea of organizing a backpack. I can totally see the use of this when you have so many binders and folders. Luckily for now my kids just have one folder and an agenda to keep up with. It's amazing how trashy the agenda looks by the end of the year...like it's been through war. Boys!
A great post, bring me back to my high school days. I remember getting my backpack for high school, was a cloth one.
I also remember it being ripped and shredded when the rulers, book corners cut through it. Of course by that time, duct tape on back packs were in, and we all taped the wholes with it.
How awesome to see a parent go to such lengths to help their child develop an organization system. When I was in the classroom, I tried to promote a binder system, but it's really difficult to stay on top of that many binder checks, but hopefully it helped a few students gain better control over their files. It's important too to make the time for occasional organization days. I would do it once a quarter. The students loved throwing stuff away!
This looks terrific Sabrina and I can imagine it's so much better for your son! I don't have children myself but I see a lot of the high school kids walking on their way home in the afternoon and some of those backpacks are so big and heavy looking I think they would qualify for army boot camp!
A timely post. My son is in middle school and his backpack usually weighs more than a suitcase packed for two weeks of travel.
Oh my God! This is a brillant idea Sabrina.
Sharing this post with my sister.
Thanks for sharing.
What an amazing idea!
You take "organisation" to another level!
My children are years away from high school but this system will certainly come in handy when the time arrives.
Thank you for sharing.
I am impressed that your son is taking German.
I am thinking I will show your post to my daughter. Maybe she will get inspired. Maybe not. I know her style is that she prefers to think of how to do the organizing on her own. But it is always difficult.
Thanks Leora. It's his third and last year. He is so over it. He has learned a lot but just wants to get his requirements overwith so he can focus on classes he wants to take.
Sabrina, this is terrific. I had no idea that kids had to carry that much around with them. It has only been about 20 years since mine were in school and they never had that much stuff to worry about. I can certainly understand how kids can get overwhelmed. Having everything organized this way will make life much easier for them - it will also be much easier on the back and shoulders.
This is so cool! Kids have a hard enough time keeping their work straight and this is so organized...something he doesn't have to really give much thought to. Kudos! And by the way, I use those tear out index cards myself:) Love them!