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Classroom Management Tips to Organize Take-Home Folders

Janelle Cox

One of the single most important tools a student has is her take-home folder. This folder is the best classroom management home/school connection a teacher has. Not only is it a great tool for communicating with parents, but it is also is a great way for students to learn some responsibility. Students learn quickly that they must bring their folder to and from school each day. The “Take-home folder” has become a classroom management staple in many elementary school classrooms, so much so that educators from all over the country have shared how they manage and organize their folders. Here are a few teacher-tested classroom management ideas on take-home folders for you try out in your classroom.

Take-Home Folder Classroom Management: Use a Binder

Instead of a two-pocket folder, many teachers opt for a binder because they feel it is an easier and more organized way to place important documents. An example of this comes from a kindergarten teacher in Upstate New York. This teacher uses a binder to help her communicate with parents more easily. She uses page protectors to keep papers in place, and makes sure to always have the following items in the binder at all times:

  • Reading log
  • Communication log
  • Class rules
  • Monthly calendar
  • Important information
  • Class schedule
  • 100s chart
  • Weekly site words and activity page

In addition to all of that, she leaves the front pocket for any homework that may be due, and instructs parents to use a hole punch to place any important notes or papers onto the front page of the binder.

Label Both Sides of the Folder

An easy way to help your little ones stay organized is to have them trace both of their hands on a colorful piece of paper and cut them out. Have students place their left-hand cutout on the left side of the folder, and their right-hand cutout on the right side of the folder. On the left hand, write the words “Left at home” and the right side of the folder, write the words “Right back to school.” At the end of each day, have students place the papers that are to be left at home on the left side of the folder, and the papers that are to come back to school on the right. It’s a cute and clever way to remember which papers stay at home and which need to come back to school.

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Use Mailboxes

Many teachers find that placing their take-home folders in student mailboxes is an effective way to organize the take-home folders. All you have to do is purchase a few plastic drawer organizers and write each student’s name on the front of one drawer. Each morning, after students take out the contents of the folder and place it in the appropriate bin, they then place their folder into their own mailbox. This mailbox can also house any important papers that need to go home. It is then the students’ responsibility to take all of the contents in the mailbox and sort it into the take home folder.

Additional Ideas

There are many ways that you create, organize, and implement a take home folder into your classroom. Here are a few more additional ideas that teachers find to be effective and efficient. 

  • To store your take-home folder, use a milk crate. Place hanging file folders with students’ names on them and have students place their folder into their own pocket in the morning.
  • Velcro a file pocket folder onto the back of your students’ chairs. Then, each morning after students empty their folders, they must place it into the folder on the back of their chair.
  • Try hanging the take-home folders. All you have to do is purchase a vertical hanging folder system like this one from Classroom Direct. Place it on the back of your classroom door, and not only does it save you room, but it keeps everything very organized.
  • To keep money or important notes from going missing in the take-home folder, use a hole punch and adhere a plastic Ziploc bag to the front of the binder, or if you have a folder, then place it into the middle prong of the folder.

How do you organize your classroom take-home folders? Do you have any classroom management tips on how to create, organize, or implement the take-home folder? Please share your ideas in the comment section below.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.