How To: get organized for Back to School

How To: get organized for Back to School

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Clueless about organizing for back to school? Don’t worry – I’ll school you! So much has changed since the days when I was getting ready to go back to school each fall. Seems cell phones and laptops are necessities and that’s just for the kindergarteners!

Thankfully things haven’t changed so much that I don’t recognize any of the essentials. Some of my favorites are still necessary, and they will have your honor student racing to homeroom before the whistle even blows.

But school isn’t all about beautiful binders and new backpacks. (Although they are the best parts!) Starting the school year organized creates a fertile ground in which to learn. If your child is prepared, it is likely they will be relaxed, confident and free to express themselves academically and socially.

Basically, their performance will be better. We know this is true for ourselves so why wouldn’t it be true for our kids? When we prepare our own job materials, tools, and schedules we feel ready to take on the world! It is never to early to learn the benefits of organization.

So we are agreed. Organizing children is a good idea! That takes care of the “Why?” Now on to the other important questions…

WHAT you’ll need: The supplies (all green!)


  • New leaf notebooks are all recycled and cool enough for school.
  • Re-Cover Journals have covers from old books – keep track of assignments and deep thoughts with a fun, vintage flair.
  • Post-its are now recycled! This is the one paper source I can’t live without. Yet.


  • Whenever you are ready for a new binder, this one lets you remove the metal rings, recycle the case and reuse the rings in a new case (from 1”- 4”). This function is truly amazing. I’ve seen so many plastic binders get thrown out – never again!
  • This Rebinder is also all about removable, replaceable and recyclable (from .5” – 3”).
  • Russell+Hazel are my favorite binders. The first binders I knew that were made from made from 100% post-consumer materials. I’ve had mine for 10 years and counting. They are stylish, come in all the colors of the rainbow and cost a pretty penny. Worth each and every one (1 ½”).



  • Theirs: Organic, sturdy, adjustable and fashionable too!
  • Yours: Environmentally sound and cute. Didn’t want you to be jealous of your mini-me.


  • These eco lunchbags from Hero are definitely all ages.
  • This specialty lunch set from Kidskonserve is all about a waste-free lunch. Teaching kids to conserve is kool.

WHERE to put essentials: The containers


  • Put one of these wall mounted file holders in your child’s room near their door. It will serve as the in/out box for paperwork between the two of you. They put papers in for you to sign and you place them back in when complete (in a folder to indicated “signed”).


  • For your child’s artwork that you want to keep for posterity get an art portfolio.  For the art that is special, but maybe not a Picasso – take a photo and discard the art. Then at the end of the year you can make a photobook of those pics. Your child will have an art book for the year.

End of year papers

  • Scan them and put on an external drive. If they must keep them for sentimental reasons (or you must) here are some container options.

WHEN: A calendar is key…

  • Have your child use a planner of some kind to schedule their assignments. If they are very young then a large family calendar can double as their assignment calendar as well.  Everyone can help show them how to track assignments.

HOW: Enforcement

  • This is your part. Organization is all about keeping up with your systems. Keep it simple and keep it up! Otherwise…detention!

Be true to your school! And let me know how it goes.

Jennifer Palais clears chaos and brings order to offices, business systems, schedules and minds and is known as an organizing expert and coach. Her approach is 10-years in the making: Inspirational, well informed and practical. It is a process filled with fun, joy and discovery. For more organizing tips, follow her on Twitter.

11 thoughts on “How To: get organized for Back to School”

  1. @jpal , you are my organizing goddess! In recent months I’ve made a HUGE push to get my house more organized and your posts have been such a blessing!

    I don’t have any children (yet!) but I do know that when kids have a system to follow they feel more in control. As classes get harder and there’s more homework to follow that system is even more important! Staying organized like this will help kids to excel, reduce stress, and make for a happier house overall.
    I love your recommendations! Great post :)

  2. @mandaleem I’m so excited to hear that you are on your mission! You have given yourself your own organizing assignment..sounds like an A+ to me :) Glad the posts are helping.

    I hear you @turboterp about going back to school! I loved getting all of the supplies! Each year they get more inventive too…I’m going to indulge in some anyway…I have a good excuse…it is my duty to keep up with the industry!

  3. Wonderful tips @jpal – thank you! I wish I could forward this to all my students and their parents! It’s also so nice to have a go-to list for all green supplies – many of the students get so into causes that this could really come in handy!

  4. I used to love picking out my new Trapper Keeper every year, anyone remember those? I wonder if they’re still around. I think I got a different kitty every year!

    Oh, and those backbacks! What was the brand of backpacks that everyone had? Not Jansport…

  5. @Stef, I had to beg for my first Trapper Keeper (it was plain blue–no kitties). My dad thought they were cheap since they had plastic rings; he made me get the stiff board/ linen covered old-school type with the metal rings. But ya know? Everything old is new again cuz they look an awful lot like a slightly less fabulous Russell+Hazel! Who knew dear old dad was ahead of the curve?
    @jpal, I’m not going back to school nor do I have any little ones to send packing, but I sure did enjoy this post! I feel like buying an assignment book or something…

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