Since moving into our home 2 years ago, I've been using the same system for papers. It's simple and has really helped to keep the school papers from taking over.
We currently have three children in school: 2nd grade, 1st grade, and preschool. This may not work for all ages or all kids, but I'm confident parts of our system will work for just about everyone.
First, the basics:
It's important to teach your children that it's not necessarily what they do, but what they learn in the process that matters. Which is why it is not necessary to keep everything. The product isn't what is important, the lesson is.
One way to reinforce this is to ask your children what they learned at school each day. Ask if something exciting happened, something silly, or ask about a specific class. Look at their papers and ask them to tell you more about the lesson.
I set aside time to talk to each kid individually about their day after they get home. My husband asks them about one thing they learned at school. The important thing is to focus on the experiences and things they learned, rather than actual school papers, projects, artwork, etc. This makes it easier to let those things go.
How we keep school papers from taking over:
- Tackle it right away, as soon as possible. Don't shove into a drawer.
- Empty backpacks right away. In the car line (if you drive) or when they walk in the door.
- Take a picture of important school papers and email to yourself, with subject line naming the document.
- Actually read it, then sort/toss.
Give praise for good work, ask questions, talk about what they learned. Show interest!
- Give kids ownership of your home, display work they are proud of, and replace often with new work.
I use clipboards, bulletin boards, or frame some artwork and hang it. Clothesline and clothespins are cute too. You can also take pictures of their artwork to save or print at a later date.
- Keep important items nearby.
I have a clipboard for each kid at our command center, collect items, and sort regularly.
- Try to limit what you save to only the best work or favorites. Only things you'd want to look back on 10 years or so from now.
- Get your kids involved in what gets saved and ask them their favorites. Some kids may want to save almost everything. Don't be afraid to challenge them and ask why they need to save something. You might be surprised on how willing they are to let things go!
- Go through your saved items regularly, then sort out items for storage or recycling.
My Command Center:
To stay organized, I like having one dedicated supply station. I call this is my command center, it was made only with things I had on hand. It's not perfect or pinteresty, but it works!
Each kid has a clipboard which holds important papers: homework, extra worksheets, important papers, rules/procedures, login info for school. I try to sort through those monthly.
The bottom two drawers of this old dresser are for papers: one for school/art work and another for important papers. I add things to the drawer as I want to save them, then sort regularly into the recycling, storage, or our office.
To create a command center of your own, think of what you will need it for. I wanted storage and this dresser fit perfectly. We NEED a family calendar where everyone can see it. The bulletin board is for papers that hang around longer (school lunch calendar, etc). Having one place where everything goes helps everyone in the house to know where to find supplies they may need.
Some important things to remember when sorting:
- Recycle when you can.
- Keeping things won't keep them little.
- Be honest with your kids, tell them why.
It's more fun to draw than to look at a drawing.
- If you want to save some holiday artwork, it can go into holiday bins.
Write down name, date, age on the papers.
- Hang the best items, then mail to grandparents or friends when ready to replace.
A facebook reader mentioned this and I thought it was SO GOOD!
- There are so many creative ideas out there for preserving artwork and school papers. Photo books, flash drives, email addresses, large file systems, scrapbooks. BUT, if any of this stresses you out of will be daunting, it's not worth the hardship.
- Ask yourself if this was you, would you want a box of your work 10 years from now? 30 years? 50?
At the heart of it, we are discussing paper.
Paper is meant to record items and not all paper should be saved. Memories shouldn't cause stress.
Let things go and move forward. 🙂