HDYDI: Sort, File & Keep Kids’ School Papers

Oh, hello summer. It is so very nice to meet you.

Last week on Instagram, I shared this photo. Y’all asked how I did it and so I’m dishing.

photo boxes

Imitation is flattery and so goes this project. Jen from iHeartOrganizing lit the proverbial fire under my Texas touche to get my kids’ papers under control. Before her brilliant idea and links to free printables my “sorting” was basically a box for each kid with everything dumped inside.

Not super efficient.

So, I took her idea and printables and ran with it and here’s my solution, along with a few tips to help you sort through the crazy so you can go enjoy some splishing and splashing poolside. By the way, if you’re not following her blog, you SHOULD BE!

school boxes, blog_005

1. We have a routine in our home. Yours may differ, but I do believe every family runs more efficiently when there’s a system in place. Find yours.

2. Don’t be afraid to let it go. Y’all, with six kids I’ve learned that you can’t keep it all. Even if you have one child, you cannot keep all that paper. I mean, you can, but you shouldn’t. Childhood is a great time to teach your children the importance of ridding yourself of “stuff.” Every January and June, my kids go through their folders and decide the “keepers” and the “recyclers.” Some of my friends take photos of their children’s artwork and make a book out of it. We choose to keep our favorites and recycle the rest. And, I’ve found that the older the kids get, the less stuff we keep. Seventh graders don’t usually make hand print calendars!

3. Think about your storage space. We choseplastic hanging folder bins with lids that allow for stacking and dust-free storage. Yes, these are from my happy place, the Container Store. Office supply stores and Amazon both carry something similar.

school boxes, blog_014

4. What else do you need to store? For all those odd-shaped memories and trinkets the kids want to keep, I bought a larger box for storage. In it, we keep things like handmade rosaries, oversized artwork, time capsules, special cards, etc.

school boxes, blog_011

5. Label it! We employ the color system at our house. Every child has a color – from cups to bean bags to baby books to bento boxes. It makes it so much easier to send kids to timeout when I see their “color” not in its place after they’ve been asked to pick up. Motherhood speak for winning.

6. Make it accessible. We store all these boxes in our family office closet, at easy arms reach for me. Throughout the fall, I stack the papers on top of the box and at Christmastime we file and purge again. Then, I start stacking in the spring and file again in May. Work smarter, not harder. It’s my mantra.

7. Involve your kids. Once you can get your kids to buy into the system and help, you’ll find the success in the system. If you’re having a hard time keeping it up, then figure out what part of the system isn’t working and fix it. Whatever you do, make it a system that your kids can manage. It’s all about life lessons and this one will be a keeper for them as they get older and fly from the nest.

school boxes, blog_007

8. Just do it. Whatever area of your life is in complete disarray – a closet, your kids school papers, your bathroom cabinets, the junk drawer – tackle it. You might have tons of areas to organize, but just choose one, then move to the next one. I’ve found summertime to be the best time of the year to purge and recycle. I’m less stressed, the kids are home to help and there is immediate satisfaction in the purge.

With every organization project, I feel a bit more free. Perhaps it’s because we learn that we really can live on less and better appreciate what we do have.

Happy {organized} summer, y’all.


  1. Jennifer on June 9, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    I so enjoy your blog! I have a question: How do you choose your child’s color. I have eight children and my husband and I have wanted to institute something similar. BUT, I am imagining at least two of my boys fighting over green, etc. Do you just put your foot down and tell them what’s what? Thanks!

    • Kathryn on June 9, 2014 at 10:09 pm

      We got really serious with the family colors a few years ago, but as providence would have it, the two oldest kids liked different colors. So, it all worked out. After that, everyone else knew what colors were taken and so they chose accordingly. Poor Gianna got the short end of the stick and we all chose for her. So, that’s probably not helpful at all!

  2. Catherine Boucher on June 10, 2014 at 7:09 am

    That closet is a thing of beauty! I love your organization system because it is so easy to implement and maintain. I’m so glad I read this right after our oldest finished her first year of preschool so that I can start her bin and make one for her little sibs. 2 questions: does the bin you have stacked on top for the loose, larger stuff fit the big preschool craft paper, or do you have to fold those in half? Did you buy both of those (the filing box and box for larger stuff) at the Container Store? I love how they stack on top of each other. Well done, Kathryn!

    • Kathryn on June 11, 2014 at 10:32 pm

      Catherine, I just fold those papers in half for the box. And, I bought both boxes at the Container Store.

  3. Laura on June 10, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Hey Kathryn. Love this idea. Did you get the “box” cover sheets from iLoveOrganizing as well or is that all Kathryn? 🙂 I just like the way it matches all the inserts. I think I’m going to tackle this project this summer. Thanks.

    • Kathryn on June 11, 2014 at 10:31 pm

      The cover sheets were my creation 🙂

      • Lisa Jones on June 17, 2014 at 11:17 am

        Will you consider sharing the cover sheet printouts? I’m not so crafty at creating my own stuff and it looks so nice on the front of your bins. 🙂 Pretty please??

      • Katrina on August 26, 2014 at 11:39 am

        I second Lisa’s request for the box cover sheet 🙂 Do you have an etsy shop? I’m willing to pay!

        God Bless you, Kathryn. This is my favorite blog and I always look forward to reading your posts.

  4. Jen on June 10, 2014 at 11:01 am

    I love Jen at iHeart Organizing. Now that we are transitioning back to homeschooling, I hope to stay on top of the paper clutter even more! Thanks for posting this!

  5. Lisa Jones on June 17, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Thank you for this post. We have just been dumping their school paperwork to keep in color coded bins for the last few years. No organization in the bins, just thrown in there. You have inspired me to finally tackle the sorting of all the paper. By saying “me” I meant to say – my kids are starting the sorting. 🙂 Having all the nifty labels and cover sheets, etc made it super simple to print out and go! Thanks!

  6. HDYDI: Keep Your House {Semi} Clean with 6 Kids on September 9, 2014 at 7:30 am

    […] either signed, recycled or filed. I have a file in my office that’s used just for that. I also created bins for the kids’ school papers I want to keep and I put papers in them twice a year (December and May). We don’t subscribe […]

  7. Sarah on June 1, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    This is the method I use since reading about it on your blog and it works so well! We also stack during the semester, then sort later- work smarter, not harder is right. Knowing all the paper has somewhere to go and be filed eventually helps me live with it building up for a while. Thanks Kathryn!!

  8. […] that goes in the Kids’ school boxes (best project I ever […]

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.