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School's out for summer and... just look at those bags and bags of school papers, artwork, spelling tests, reports, projects and well-used school supplies!
It's time to organize your children's school papers before they take over your home.
Quick! Gather all the papers, artwork, etc. all in one place. Get two boxes and pre-sort using the Keep/Toss Method. That's pretty much all there is to it, you just Keep or Toss. The key is to sort annually and try to keep up with it periodically throughout the year.
Still have too many school papers? Do the Keep/Toss Method over again!
Believe me, I know it can be hard. You may want to keep all of those precious papers that your children have done themselves. But over time, it's just WAY too much to store. So try your hardest to just keep the most creative, original and memorable ones. After 12+ years of school papers per child, you will have more than enough for a memory book. And if you save too much you may never do a memory book because it will feel too overwhelming.
Here's what I suggest for the maximum amount of papers you should keep...
No more than one large plastic container can hold (i.e., 18 gallon capacity)
If your child's container is full after 5th grade, it's time to prune again and make room for the next 7 years of school treasures. ;-)
(If you just want to get on with organizing your child's school papers, scroll down to "Special Tip")
I'll be honest here. With my firstborn I practically kept a full container per year until she got to about 5th grade. I mean EVERYTHING she did was so special! Then one day I had to move those 7 totes and I realized at this rate I'd have 7 MORE by the time she finished high school. Then multiply that by how many children we have. That's a lot of school papers! Not to mention all the "other papers" we have to keep.
It was definitely time to get realistic. I asked myself if my children would really want to go through 14 containers of their old school papers once they had their own families. I highly doubted it.
Then something happened that made my answer very clear. My mother gave me a box of my own memorabilia. I admit it was fun going down memory lane looking through some of the items. However, I still haven't gone through all of it and it's been several years since she gave me the box. Light Bulb Moment...
I knew then and there that my children would NOT want more than just a sampling from their school years. It was time to REDUCE!
At first it was hard, but after seeing those empty spaces begin to open up, it became a little easier. The reduction process was rather freeing really (and I am sure my children will be thankful). I took photos of some of the larger pieces with whichever child created the project and then put the photos in each child's one container.
Now, every year when summer break begins, we go through their schoolwork and pick out a few "faves" together.
The rest goes down in history.
As your children get older, have them choose their favorites to keep. Take photos of your child holding special projects, showboards, etc. and then put the photos right into their Keep container. This makes it much easier to part with projects and yet still have the memory.
Take the time to do this as soon as school is out. If your children are schooled year-round, choose a month that make sense and go through their schoolwork at the same time each year. Be sure to mark each piece you keep with your child's initials (if their name is not on it already) plus the grade they were in and the year. Separate the years within the container with a sheet of paper marked with the year.
You will be glad you did and so will your children!
Now, for all those dried-up markers, worn down pencils and broken erasers that came home in those bags of papers. Sort them all into categories and pitch any that are not re-useable. Ziplock or contain each category and box/shelve them for home use.
Voila! It's time to enjoy your summer vacation.
See you when it's back-to-school time!