If you have school-age children, you’ll most likely deal with an ever-growing stack of school papers and artwork this coming school year. Some of the papers may go straight to the recycle bin, but what do you do with the important papers and special artwork you’d like to keep?
Start by sorting
Before you can start organizing your child’s paperwork and art projects, you need to decide what to discard and what to keep. “I keep things that reveal his personality,” says Kara Thomas, mom to a 10-year-old son. Set aside papers that show your child’s writing skills and artwork you feel is unique to your child’s personality. Discard worksheets or daily papers.
Make another stack of papers that have information you need to keep handy, such as calendars, directories and spelling lists. Try to sort items at least once a week, so the stack of papers doesn’t get out of control. “Parents may want to feature their child’s artwork by hanging it in frames on the wall. This gives them the opportunity to enjoy it, then change the pictures over time,” says Stephanie Davis, a Certified Professional Organizer.
Get a keepsake box
A keepsake box is a space for you to save items that mean something to you or your child. Davis suggests using a file box. “A keepsake box causes you to constantly purge and evaluate what you really want to keep,” she says. Some parents may choose to establish a file folder for each grade level, but Davis suggests sorting items by type, such as artwork, invitations, pictures, projects and adventures. This will give the box a more defined purpose, and it will be easier for the parent to maintain.
“Keepsake boxes should be stored where they’re easy to get to,” Davis says. “If they are stored on a closet shelf, they’re less likely to be used than if they are stored somewhere that is easily accessed.”
Create a family binder
As a mom of six, I have a family with its fair share of paperwork. Creating a family binder for important information has helped me stay organized. Each family member has a tab, and their sports calendars, school directories and medical information are stored there. When I need something in a hurry, I know right where to look.
“I encourage families to go digital,” says Davis. “They can use one family calendar app so everyone knows what is going on, and important papers can be scanned and shared, as well. I try to be flexible and figure out what works for each family.”
Some parents may find it easier to use mobile apps when it comes to storing their child’s artwork and school papers. Joanna Cline, mother of three, says, “I use the Artkive app to store my kids’ art. At the end of the year, I’ll make a photobook of their artwork.” Other apps that help save artwork are DearMuse and Keepy. Many of these apps have family sharing available.
The main thing to remember is the list of items we want to keep will develop and change over time. As you add to your keepsake box, you may find that some items don’t seem as important a few years later, and it’s okay to discard them to make room for the things that you value now. Parents should never feel guilty about not keeping every single paper, painting and essay. Realistically, it’s only important to keep the items that mean the most.
Sarah Lyons is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom to six children in three schools.