Upgrade Your Child’s Focus with Just One Binder

Say goodbye to messy backpacks and lost papers with the One Binder Method!

The average student carries 10 folders, notebooks, and binders to school each day. Ouch! Talk about a heavy load — both physically AND mentally. The worst part? Most of this stuff is unused 90% of the time.

How in the world are children supposed to keep track of homework and papers when they could be in 1 of 10 places? Every handout, paper, or assignment forces your child to make a dozen decisions: Which binder? Where in the binder? Is there room? How many binders will I have to carry home?

No wonder papers end up crumpled at the bottom of backpacks and lost forever.

The Messy Side of a Messy Backpack

The impact of a bursting-at-the-seams backpack is bigger than a sore back.

A cluttered space is a sign of a cluttered mind, and research at Princeton University supports this.

A study by cognitive neuroscientist Sabine Kastner used Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to map the brain’s responses to performing tasks in organized and disorganized situations.

The conclusions are compelling — Kastner found that visual clutter competes with the brain’s ability to focus and perform other executive functions.

What does this mean?

You need to clear the clutter from your physical environment to clear your mental environment. Kastner’s research shows that your child (and you!) will be less irritable, less distracted, more productive, and able to process information more efficiently with an organized binder, locker, backpack, and dedicated study space.

Enter: The One Binder System

The One Binder System is a simple and cost-effective solution to chronic backpack clutter. It’s a tried and true Kaizen Education favourite for ALL age groups.

The Supplies List

  • Heavy-duty zippered binder
  • Package of plastic dividers with a build-in slide pocket with one divider per subject (I like AVERY #11903)
    Tabletop file box
  • Hanging folder folders with one per subject
Photo of a zippered binder, plastic divider tabs, and a hanging folder organizer.

How to Use the One Binder System

1. The Binder

One zippered binder is enough in most cases, especially if your child is in elementary school or studies subjects by semester.

If your child is in 7-8 classes, they may need two binders. Get 2 binders, different colours, grouped by subjects, days, or AM/PM classes.

Let your child choose their binder(s) so they are excited! A personalized keychain or charm on the zipper is a fun touch and makes the binder easy to identify.

2. The Plastic Pocket Dividers

Plastic pocket dividers are ESSENTIAL. I like Avery 11903.

Label one divider per subject with HOMEWORK or HOT on the front pocket of each. A Sharpie works great for this. Engage your child by getting them to choose the colours for each subject. This pocket is where immediate and current work gets placed — no need to bumble through the rest of the binder, open rings, etc. Front of folder, front of mind.

The rest of the current unit can be stored in chronological order behind the designated divider. HOT items are moved from the front of the folder to the rings as it is completed (assuming it hasn’t been handed in).

Your child will carry the binder back and forth between school and home each day. The zipper keeps everything contained, including their planner, pens, pencils, and other ESSENTIAL school supplies. (In other words, they should not lug their geometry set around all year.)

3. The At-Home File Box

At the end of each unit, your child will remove all completed unit material and sort it into 2 piles: Recycle and Review.

Recycle materials go in the bin right away. There’s no space for extras!

Review material is clamped or stabled together, labeled with the unit name on the front page in a bold marker, and moved to the filing system. Your child will easily identify what’s important to keep for review because they have been keeping up with their daily active review each day, right??

And voila! With a single binder, your child has instant study guides and a lighter mental and physical load.

How ADHD Impacts Executive Functioning Book Cover