Montessori: The Prepared Child · Montessori: The Prepared Environment

Finish Files

…..fostering a classroom that is crafted for the children and organized by the children ❤️

This is a system that I adopted from my mentor, Cheryl Raymond, so I take no credit for it; however, I love do it! It is simple, neat, orderly, cumulative, and best of all, able to be maintained by the students. ;D


Each child has a 10 pocket accordion file folder system (see photos below). This is listed for our parents to purchase as part of the “school supply list”.

The children use one tab for each content area listed on the whiteboard in the picture below. They write the subjects using a fine point sharpie (any other marker will smear) and slide them into place (the most challenging part!). Once the finish files are completed they are stored in a way that allows the children to freely access them.


So now, you ask, what is the purpose of this madness!?!?! Well, it helps to keep all of their completed loose paper work organized by content area. It gives the children and parents an organized and simple tool to see the academic growth made over the course of a school year. It allows for meaningful mentoring and work between older and younger children in both set-up and maintaining of the Finish Files.


Some years we have passed back work that needs to be filed (work that has been checked and demonstrates understanding of the concept) on a daily basis. Children would then file work as needed at the beginning of the morning work cycle. Other years we have held all completed work until we conference with children on Friday. As they leave our conference they get their correct, completed work to file. While I admittedly struggle with the busyness of work being filed first thing in the morning, I do prefer it. I feel that it encourages children to assess their work and progress on a daily basis, versus during an isolated moment when we conference. I also believe that it helps to guide them into self-reflection of their work, versus teacher-directed/assisted reflection of their work (which is a possible outcome when they are handed completed work to file while conferencing with a teacher). Lastly, I have observed that children are less apt to look at their finished pieces in relation to work that needs to be revisited when they are handed a stack of papers on Friday during their conference time. However, when they are able to look at their work in smaller doses and on a daily basis then they become more prone to consider it. It really is quite amazing how children truly consider (think on/about) their work! ………..Okay, this is the real lastly…..Lastly (again), it can become discouraging to children to only receive “corrections” “let’s do this together” or “come see me” sticky notes during the week. A healthy balance of returned work that reflects mastery and continued practice/corrections is best, in my opinion. 😉

We send home the finish files after each parent-teacher conference, so twice a year. This allows the parent and child to go through the file noting progress made in each area. The filled file is sent home in June for parents and children to keep.

I love having a cumulative record of work, and the children do too. It is always so enjoyable to hear their comments or see the expressions on their faces as they realize how much was learned in the course of one year.

traditional accordian file with 10 tabs
this “sticker” version is easier to work with because there aren’t any little tabs to slide in
Here is a list of the content areas we use for our Finish Files. The children sit around the white board with their buddy (older with younger) and work together on creating their Finish Files. This is a big work for the first years, but the second and third years are great mentors!
Cubby Baskets (explained in a prior blog) and Notebooks are stored above, Finish Files for the same children are stored below.





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