The overflowing book bag

Heavy school bags (blog post)

Why does each teacher insist on their own 3-ring binder for class? I know it’s to keep things organized and separate. But that’s what dividers are for! I understand not using a 5-subject notebook for multiple classes because the established 70 or 100 pages for the section likely won’t be enough and you run the risk of merging notes. Well, if you were like me and diligently wrote down everything that was discussed in class and had no real way of distinguishing super important information from a useless detail, then the single-subject of space wouldn’t be enough. (Although I did realize later on that I learn best by writing things down, so I guess I can’t fault myself too much on this. I just needed help with knowing what should be worth recording.) If you were more selective about what you wrote down, then maybe the 5-subject notebook would work for you.

Anyhow, I always took teachers at their word with that, a separate binder for each class. But it made for a bulkier book bag. Everything had to come home with me if I had an assignment. I wasn’t about to remove individual pages just to make the commute easier. Separate binders should only be required if the teacher expects to regularly collect the binder instead of individual pages. But how often does that happen? If you’re handing in a journal on a regular basis, then that’s usually a composition notebook, not a binder.

Maybe things have changed. But for each class to have a 2” binder is ridiculous.

Although, for the record, maybe choosing that width was my doing. I do recall seeing classmates with 1″ binders or possibly narrower, some even with a soft cover. Perhaps the 2″ binders were seen as more bang for the buck, something that you could grow into.

Nevertheless, this proved to be an issue for me with coming home each night, but it also impacted things during the day. It started in 6th grade where I kept all the books I would need for homework in my desk. We had that built-in shelf under the desktop, so we could store things there. I would jam everything I would need in there so I could keep up with them.

At this new school, sure we had lockers, but we didn’t have the desk situation. So I ended up carrying all the items I would need for homework with me throughout the day. My book bag got more and more loaded down as the day went on.

My reasoning, if you can call it that, was to ensure that nothing was accidentally left behind at the end of the day. That was a constant fear: leaving a book or binder at school. It didn’t matter that I wrote down all my assignments and was good about keeping things in mind. 

Oh and I unfortunately fell victim to the popular trend of wearing the book bag with one strap. Yep, trying to be “cool.”

Or maybe keeping everything with me was a matter of wanting to wrestle with the combination lock as few times a day as possible. I guess that could have been a real concern. Getting those numbers to line up correctly each time, and fast, might have been tricky, especially when trying to work around other people who are also trying to access lockers. Not to mention the flow of traffic down the hall.

On the plus side, though, if we were given 5 to 10 minutes at the end of a class to read quietly or whatever, then I could pull out some homework and begin working on it. There might have been a few instances where that approach enabled me to finish something so I could return books to my locker before going home.  

So, parents, my advice to you is this: If you see your child coming home with a loaded down bag, talk to him about it. It may be a matter of too much homework. It may be that the teacher(s) has unrealistic expectations. Or, it could be that your child needs help learning how to be better organized and find new ways to consolidate items.

This might be helpful: 7 Ways to unburden your child from a heavy school bag

And here are some note-taking tips.


2 thoughts on “The overflowing book bag”

  1. Oh, man, that one-strap. I’ve seen E doing that.

    My first big face palm teaching was putting the 2-inch binder on my list. I don’t know what I was thinking, but when I saw all those kids plop that huge thing on their desks, my brain was like, “WTH did you do?!” Luckily the other teachers were cool with combining the other subjects to the one binder.


    1. The one-strap approach definitely has the coolness factor, but it can really cause back problems, etc.

      And awwww. Glad you were able to work out the binder scenario. It’s hard! Students often complain about teachers conspiring against them, but I think there’s a bit of truth in there too. I think teachers get focused on their class that it’s challenging to look at the full picture sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

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