This post contains mention of products provided to me by Avery. All opinions are 100% mine.
When I was going through school, I had a gigantic blue-jean three ring binder that zipped on the side. It had embroidered butterflies on the front and I had threaded a length of keychain through the spine to support the 15 or so keychains I left hanging from it. (Among my favorites were a mini working Rubik’s cube and a mini magnet scrabble game and board.)
This one place held my entire scholastic life. My homework, my handouts, my day planner and -most importantly- my doodles. There was crumpled paper shoved in every nook and cranny, home-made construction paper dividers for class subjects, and the front bulged from being stretched to accommodate a pencil case with every color of jelly ink pens.
Since those days I’ve grown up a bit, lost my affinity for keychains, (but not doodles!) and graduated to a more sophisticated life-planner system. But when my 14 year old sister Kristy asked me how she could best prepare for her first year in high school, my first thought was of my blue-jean binder.
As a Graphic Designer, one could say my whole job is just a means of organizing information. And, I’m sure you’re all familiar with my penchant and passion for planner design, as noted in my Modular Planners and June – June Student Planners, and June-June Junior Planners. So when Avery gifted me a box of binders, dividers, and other fancy organization stuff, I knew exactly what I was going to do. I set out to answer my sister’s question: how to organize for school.
There is a lot to be said about different learning styles, and a child’s natural tendency towards neatness or disorganization, but there are a few constants that I decided to focus on. These are:
- Students will always have handouts
- Students will always need to take notes/have scratch paper
- Students will always have a to-do list
According to this article in the New York Times Blog, students should have a binder for each subject, and a convenient place to store their to-do lists. I think that is spot-on. The giant binder of my youth was huge and heavy. Every subject was crammed into the 2inch spine and nothing had a place of its own. I’m encouraging my sister to dedicate one binder to each of her class periods. This is where her handouts will go and where she will keep notes related to each class. While it will require a trip to her locker after each period, she won’t be lugging around the weight of 6 classes everywhere.
But what about that ever-present homework/to-do list? What about the constant fear of “Oh no! I left my binder in my locker!?” when the instructor asks for last night’s homework? What about the doodles? Where do those go?
I was so tickled with I opened my box of supplies from Avery, that I called my sister up on the webcam and opened everything for her. She was not nearly as interested in office-supplies and paper products as I am, but she realized the potential they held in making her life easier. Particularly the small sized binder.
I spent some time playing with what Avery sent, and ended up with this amazing, small sized catch-all binder. This is where Kristy will keep her completed homework assignments and papers for Mom (in convenient pouches), her weekly task list (using the template from my DIY notepad), and oodles of lined note paper and blank sketch paper, all kept neatly separate by the small sized colorful dividers. Its small enough that it won’t be a burden and can accompany her to every class, lunch, and home regardless of homework.
Oh, and let’s not forget that the lynchpin of any school binder is how it looks. I cooked up some full page and half page custom printables for Kristy (and you!) to edit and print to go in the binders. Use them as cover images, as section pages or anything else! They also match my line of Modular Planners, so there is potential to make a custom cover for this year’s planner!
So, are you ready for school? Did you have an awesome blue-jean (or other totally rad) binder like I did as a child? Tell me I’m not the only nerd here!