Summer is a terrific time to clear out any lingering paperwork 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 organizing eBooks.

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