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Binder Tidying 101

I've opened many a binder to find something that would give Marie Kondo a heart attack. Paper folded, crumpled, ripped, and sticking out in all directions. Though the owners of these binders adamantly claim they know where everything is, they often struggle to find what they're looking for. This leads to more time doing homework, missing work, and incomplete study sessions. This doesn't leave the binder owner, or the parent feeling much joy. Sound familiar?

A binder is a tool- one that most students have a love-hate relationship with. An organized binder can make a noticable difference in grades, stress levels, and time wasted. Often, once I help the students create some order around this tool, they discover that its proper use changes their school and home life. Their binder actually begins to spark a little joy.

The skill of organization isn't something that comes naturally to most. It's something that must be taught to students- but is often skipped over in school. So, how do you help your child learn to maintain an organized binder? Try some of the quick tips below:

1. Have a place for everything

Although this suggestion seems like organization 101 (a place for everything and everything in its place), it's often something that's skipped over when students are organizing their own binders. There must be a place for everything the student will need to keep track of. Here are a few questions you can go over with your child when setting up or re-organizing their binder.

Where will notes go?

Most well organized binders will have dividers for each subject behind which notes and class handouts can be placed.

Where will loose leaf handouts or booklets go?

I suggest utilizing a binder with an accordian file for this, or dividers that have pockets.

Where will supplies go?

Where will homework and assignments go?

Where will non-subject related materials go? (ex. report card, permission slip, newsletter, etc)

2. Have a homework system

Losing, or forgetting to turn in, homework assignments can drop a grade scary fast. It's important for your child to have a clear system for homework assignments in their binder. Homework must be easily accessed when coming home and when making its way back to school. Make sure your child has a system (that they can actually explain) for how they bring home and return homework. Many of my students keep a "homework folder" in their binder where they place all the assignments they must complete and turn in that day or week.

3. Eliminate Extra Stuff

This is where you really need to channel your inner Kondo. Most students have SO MUCH STUFF in their binder. Just like Marie, I have a couple categories you can take your child through to eliminate the unnecessary stuff that's cluttering your child's binder.

School Supplies

Have your child go through their pencil pouch and decide what they really need in class on a daily basis. There's no need for 7 highlighters, a pack of markers, and 27 pencils to be in your child's binder. If coloring utensils are needed often, encourage your child to just keep the primary colors in their binder.

Old Papers

Just like the stuff in our house, often students can hold on to old papers for way too long, causing their binder to become overstuffed. Decide on a system for eliminating extra papers (ex. all assignments older than two months will go in a file folder at home).

4. Learn to maintain

Just like clutter can creep back into your house, a binder can slowly become messy again. Students also need to be taught the skills it takes to maintain organization. Help your child get in a routine of tidying their binder either daily or weekly. This only needs to take a few minutes in which they put away any loose papers and straighten their supplies. Every month or two, remind your child to go through their binder to get rid of extra stuff.

Don't forget to hold the binder to your face and thank it for keeping your child organized. Maybe encourage your child to do the same. Also remember that this is a practice, and it ever be 100% perfect. So give yourself and your child a little grace and try to get the binder in the best shape you can.

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