back to school paper organization

I love back to school.  I love the school supplies, I love that my kids are so tired they fall into bed at 8:00 pm, I love my children’s teachers, I love that I have all day to work alone.

What I don’t love so much?  All the !%#$ paper that comes with it.

There’s an obscene amount of paper coming home every day, and it’s enough to overwhelm my entire household.  So here’s what I do to tame the nonsense.

back to school paper organization

I designate a folder for each child, write their name on it, and use it for the entire year.  For every 50 papers that come in, I keep one.


I’m ruthless about thinning out the trail of paper streaming into my house.  I keep a recycle bin next to my desk and at the end of every day I go through the backpacks, sign papers, recycle what we don’t need and look to see if there’s something special.


When I see something that needs to be saved I write the name, age of the child, and the year on the back.


Then I slip the paper into the appropriate folder, and I’m done.

back to school paperwork
At the end of the year I have an assortment of adorable papers, photos, art projects, and love notes stashed in a folder.  I have one for every year, and someday when the kids are older I’ll hand over a box of their school papers.

That way I won’t sit alone as an old lady and sob my way through the school years all over again.


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Hello there! I'm Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. I do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, home remodel projects, and cool DIY crafts you totally want to try. I'm super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we're a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!


  1. Kristen :

    I’m ruthless about throwing things away too. Love your organization system!

    • Allison :

      I can see that about you Kristen. Sisters in de-cluttering.

  2. Liz :

    This is SUCH a great idea! I thought all the preschool artwork was going to drown me until I bought a couple of these boxes from IKEA.

    But I love your idea for keeping track of the elementary school paper. Thanks!

    • Allison :

      Oh IKEA, how I love thee… I have a bunch of those, I should probably go get more.

  3. Sarah :

    I love this idea. I have been trying to come up with some sort of solution for my “drawer” in the kitchen.
    Great, now I have lost my excuse :)

    • Allison :

      Oh a drawer would kill me. It’d be slammed full of stuff in a day.

  4. Lisa :

    As a teacher and a parent, I think this is fantastic! Can I use it my next classroom newsletter? I think more people would benefit from this wise idea! Thanks!

    • Allison :

      Totally! Do it.

  5. katrina :

    You’re a bigger women than me! I save too many things, and they are not even in school yet!

    • Allison :

      My early years with #1 in preschool were harder. I saved a lot of nonsense. But now I’m just so ruthless. I have to be! Otherwise we’d be overrun with paper.

  6. Jill V. :

    OK, I am now going to start my Monday off tomorrow with two folders labeled for my boys. What a simple, but smart answer to all those papers!

    Thank you for helping me tame my OCD!