5 Steps to an Organized Backpack

Is your child’s backpack a mess? Have you ever asked him to pull out his homework only to have him pull out a handful of crumpled papers? If so, your child may need a backpack overhaul.

Messy backpacks are usually a sign of a larger organizational problem. While fixing the backpack won’t solve all organizational issues, it can help your child begin to see and understand the necessity of effective organization. Follow these steps to clean up and maintain a good backpack.

Avoid a messy backpack

Step 1: Size the backpack

A good backpack should be an appropriate size so as not to encourage hoarding of materials. If a backpack is too big, it becomes easy to throw everything in. Aim for a backpack that fits snugly on your child’s back and has one main storage area with one or two smaller pockets.

Step 2: Figure out what must go in the backpack

Identifying only those supplies that are necessary to get through a day at school will help alleviate a messy backpack. Most students need a binder containing a folder for each class, notebook paper, a few pens and pencils, a calculator, and the books he will actually use that day. The fewer amount of items he must carry the easier it will be to keep it clean.

Step 3: Put papers in their proper folders

Once a student receives papers in class, they should immediately be filed away in the proper folder. If the student has a hard time with this at school, he can do it once he gets home.

Step 4: Set up a long-term filing system

Every student should have a filing system at home. It does not have to be an extravagant system, just something easy to access. Accordion-style folders, plastic filing bins, etc. work well. There should be a separate, clearly-labeled folder for each class in the filing system.

Step 5: Clean out folders once a week

Every week, usually Sunday evening, the student should go through his folders in his binder and pull out all the papers. There will be three categories for each class: 1) papers he will need in class, 2) papers he needs to store for later use (i.e., studying for finals), and 3) papers that can be thrown away. Papers he needs in class get filed back into his binder folders. Papers he needs for later use get filed chronologically in his long-term filing system. The third pile gets recycled.

If your child can follow these steps and commit to a weekly cleaning, he will be on the road to organizational success!