Back to School: Start Strong with a Simple “One Binder” System

Avoid the huge backpack syndrome with the one binder system.

Avoid the huge backpack syndrome with the one binder system.

Everybody is probably now back in school, and the homework and study time grind is being felt these first weeks of September.

Some large amount of success in school (and in life!) comes from doing the basic work, the work that needs to be done. It’s not always pleasant, but this work needs to be done in order to get what we want.

Nobody wants to spend extra time doing boring work. I don’t blame kids for getting frustrated with hours of homework every night. As a parent, I don’t want the wonderful years of being a young person to be entirely thrown away on endless hours of homework.

This is one of the cases where using a little more time early in the year can save tons of time later in the year. Getting good habits in place on how to study and do homework quickly and effectively early in the year will save a ton of time and frustration in January and February.

One of the easiest ways to improve is to create a simple, repeatable method of getting the homework done every night. By far the easiest way to do this is to spend some time with your kid showing them how to get organized.

We recommend using a 1 binder system for his school work. At most, 2 binders can be used. Do not use more than 2 binders.

The reason for this is simple – if all of his schoolwork and homework is in one binder, all he has to do is bring home the binder and everything he needs will come home with him. The less thinking he has to do at the end of the school day, the better.

Kids are a bit tired, probably need some sort of snack, and talking with their friends at the end of the day, all while shoved together near their lockers. It’s a high distraction time. It would be difficult for adults to remember exactly what is needed to be done, what needs to be brought home.

So the plan is to make it a literal “no brainer” for the kids. Make it so they bring home the same single binder every day, and that binder has everything they need inside of it already.

It’s possible in some cases two binders can be used. We have seen great success with kids using a two binder system too – one binder for morning classes and one binder for afternoon classes. If your kid has some intense classes, they may need more than one binder to manage the sheer volume of paper.

But more than two going to be a lot to carry. More than two binders and anyone would start to think “Do I really need to carry all these this home with me?” – and this is going to lead to leaving something at school which is needed at home for homework.

Of course, there is more to organizing the single binder, and getting homework done on quickly but completely requires more than just organization.

But getting everything home, every single day, can be a big step for some kids. Forgetting something at school is easy, and once it’s forgotten, well why bother doing it at all?

Cutting down the decision of what to bring home every day to a literal “no brainer” will greatly help out. Just bring home the binder – and everything they need will be inside it.

We recommend reaching out to teachers with a brief note about what your child is planning on doing for organization at school. We’ve found reaching out to the teachers is almost always works great.

Let them know you are working with your son/daughter on being organized, and that they will have a 1 binder system you want to use for the school year. Usually they will be thrilled you are taking time with your student to work on this, and will offer to help.

With our son, four of his teachers actually had a brief meeting to talk about our email and all responded! Amazing.

Also, remember to celebrate the success of brining home the binder the first few times, and really every time. Have your kid celebrate totally out of proportion to the task the first few times they bring home the binder. Forming habits is way easier when you celebrate the simple successes, even when everyone knows the celebration is forced and silly and too much. This celebration will help more than you expect.

Start strong this year with the simple one binder system. Get all the homework home first, and then getting every bit of homework done is far more likely to happen.

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