Paper Organizing Tip 3: Go Through Your Kid’s School Papers Now

posted by Aby Garvey on June 4, 2010 10 Comments

Summer is a terrific time to clear out any lingering paper clutter left over from the past school year. Consider tackling this project with your kids in fifteen minutes spurts so it doesn’t become too overwhelming for anyone. Sift through papers like art projects, completed assignments, teacher newsletters, and any end of the year notices and forms. Decide which pieces to keep as mementos of the past school year and which papers need your attention over the summer. Then, recycle the rest, and enjoy the summer knowing there’s nothing lingering in the backpack that needs your attention.

Kids artwork bindersFor completed school work it can be tricky to decide what to keep. My process is to first decide how much storage space to devote to one school year’s worth of artwork. Do this by deciding where you will store the papers—in a file folder in a file cabinet? In a box or portfolio made especially for artwork? Or in a three-ring binder on a shelf? I find it’s helpful to start with the overall storage location such as the file cabinet or shelf, and then select a storage solution that fits that space and the items you’ll be keeping. Our past year’s school papers live in three ring binders on a shelf in a closet. We also have a single box per child to corral over-sized artwork from multiple school years.

Next, decide which pieces make the cut. Pull out any papers that need your action over the summer such as registration forms or the school supply list, and put these in your paper action system. Then, decide which mementos to keep. I use the “ahhh…” test, and keep things that really tug at my heartstrings. It’s the original artwork or the creative writing stories that are most special to me. Spelling tests and math worksheets just don’t have the same tug, but we might keep one or two of those, just so we can see how things change from year to year. By including my child in the process, I also make sure we keep items that are meaningful to her. Once we make our selections, we pull out a three-hole punch and some sheet protectors and load up the binder. Then, we sit back, relax and wait for the whole process to start again this fall.

For more information on putting together an artwork / school papers binder, check out this blog post.

I’d love to know your litmus test for items your kids create such as artwork, school assignments and the like. How do you decide what stays and what goes? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Thanks for sharing!

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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and coaching program

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  • June 4, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    My children are 37, 35, 31, 21, and 16. If I would have kept all the papers I wanted to, we would be overwhelmed. I decided that one or two binders per child was enough. I try to keep two or three papers from each year so that all their papers will fit in those one or two binders with their school pictures and scrapbook pages from their school years. I’ve also taken pictures of them with various projects (art and science) then just kept the picture. As they grew older, I had to ask them for papers because they don’t bring them all home for mom to see when they’re teenagers!

    • June 4, 2010 at 2:43 pm

      I’m just starting out with my oldest in Kindergarten and trying to figure out a system. I’m going to try to keep what she really likes, and what I like and try to get a range of different projects. If things fall apart then I’ll throw them away. Or I may tell her she can keep 10 of her favorites. As long as they all fit in the little container.
      I also keep a few drawings from each age in a little filing folder. I keep the ones that are their best work, or that I really love.
      I’d love to read what others do since I’m new to this.

      • June 4, 2010 at 5:21 pm

        My Only Child just finished preK. He was in a 3 year old preK the year before. I tried this idea and liked it both years. I take pictures of all the art work then order a flipbook of it (spiral) from snapfish.com. It has taken two volumes both years, but it takes up a lot less space than the actual art work. I pull out a few to keep that I really like or that made me smile or giggle and then I lay everything out on the floor and have my son pick 5 pieces that he’d like to “keep big”. As far as he knows, the actual artwork is shrunk down by snapfish and put in the little book. I don’t let him see me recycle the actual artwork – he’ll figure it out eventually! This year he had characters for each letter of the alphabet and I am saving the pages of those in his 3 ring notebook from school – I don’t think it will make it through another year and the teachers made a really cute cover page for it.

        • June 4, 2010 at 7:21 pm

          I look for their “voice” in their work…meaning, was it from them (their little minds &/or hearts)or was the process of production mostly from their teacher? Editing my children’s work is on my big list this summer. Good blog topic!

          • June 4, 2010 at 7:22 pm

            I look for their “voice” in their work…meaning, was it from them (their little minds &/or hearts)or was the process of production mostly from their teacher? Editing my children’s work is on my big list this summer. Good blog topic!

            • June 4, 2010 at 8:15 pm

              I’ve gotten pretty ruthless. I use Stacy Julian’s LOM principals. So I have a file box with a folder for each grade of each kid ( I only have 2kids). I tend to keep any artwork that I think is exceptional. Any certificates the kids got throughout the school year. Which end up in the School of Life layout.

              • June 8, 2010 at 1:29 pm

                I love the Cameron art boxes from Pottery Barn Kids! I use the large flat ones (26 x 12 x 3) to keep my kids’ papers and artwork. It’s a great size for the larger items that kindergartners and 1st graders produce!

                • June 13, 2010 at 10:48 am

                  This is such a great idea! Thanks!

                  • July 17, 2010 at 7:42 pm

                    Hi,, I think this is really why I started my home business a couple of years ago now.. I make Keepsake Boxes and they are perfect for the kids worksheets you want to keep

                    • November 23, 2011 at 9:39 am

                      Hey, that’s such a great idea, I wish I could have thought of that! Not only do you save enough room space, you also get to know your kids’ progress in school!