Do you have stacks or boxes or piles of papers your kids have brought home from school or daycare? Not sure what to do with them? I know the feeling. For me, this is one of the hardest things to throw away (and it’s hard for my kids to see me do it.)

So here’s my strategy. In my laundry room (our main entry into the house) we have a collection bin for papers. After going through the daily stash of artwork, schoolwork and other creations, and culling out any papers that require attention, the creations are first, admired and then, put in the bin to “age.”

After a sufficient aging period, the kids and I create a binder for their most important papers using a three-ring binder and three-hole punch. How do you know the aging period is up? It depends. If you love to organize, you can probably tackle a bigger pile and therefore handle a longer aging process. If organizing and purging papers isn’t so much fun for you, I’d recommend a shorter aging period. Collect fewer papers and go through them more often. My current strategy is to do this about twice a school year. I know the aging is complete when the bin is too full to put anything else in and that spurs me into action.

We set aside a weekend morning and go through the art and other papers — deciding which things to keep, which things to send to grandmas and grandpas and which things to recycle. I let my kids be involved in the process so we’re sure to keep the things that are most special to them (and we also keep my personal favorites.)

Once we’ve sorted, we start punching holes and putting papers in the binder. For larger piece of artwork, we turn them sideways, punch the holes, and then fold the paper so it fits in the binder. The picture below shows large artwork unfolded:

Artwork binder

For odd shaped items (like the turkey shown below) slide them into the binder’s front pocket or a page protector.

Artwork binder

It’s a simple project but effective for keeping these types of paper safe, sound, and most importantly accessible. I have a theory that if you’re keeping something you should be able to enjoy it. With these books my kids can open them up, look at their accomplishments, share their creations with grandparents when they come to visit, and so on. The other thing is that this project creates a limit — we only keep what will fit in the binder (yes it’s bulging just a bit, but I’m OK with that. And one more exception … kindergarten gets two binders in my house … indicating once again one of my weaknesses: kindergarten artwork.)

Here’s a little bonus tip for you scrapbookers: once you have your child’s binder together, make a scrapbook page. What does the binder tell you about your child and his or her past year? What did he learn? What was she “into”? Which subjects does your child excel in? Any struggles? And so on. The artwork and schoolwork tells a great story … one that would make for a fun perspective on a scrapbook page.

Have fun … and as always, I’d love to hear from you if you take the challenge or even if you don’t ;) … hellos are always welcome.

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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 organizing eBooks.

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