Organizing Chaos: Kids’ School Papers and Art Projects
By: Sarah Lyons
If you have school-aged children, you are most likely dealing with an ever growing stack of school papers and artwork. Some of the papers may go straight to the recycle bin, but what do you do with the important papers and special artwork you would 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. Set aside papers that show your child’s writing skills and artwork that you feel is unique to your child’s personality. Discard worksheets or daily papers. Make another stack of papers that have information you need, such as calendars, directories, or spelling lists. Try to sort items at least once a week so the paper stack does not get out of control. “Parents may want to feature their child’s artwork by framing and hanging it on the wall. This gives them the opportunity to enjoy it. Then change the pictures over time,” says Stephanie Davis, a certified professional organizer from Let’s Get Organized in Ridgeland.
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. She adds: “A keepsake box causes you to constantly purge and evaluate what you really want to keep”. Some parents may have a file for each grade level but Davis suggests sorting items by type, such as artwork, invitations, pictures, projects, and adventures. This will give the file box a more defined purpose. It is also easier for the parent to maintain. “The keepsake boxes should be stored where they are easy to get to. If it is way up on top of the closet shelf, it is less likely to be used. Put it somewhere that is easily accessible.”
As a mom of six, I get a fair share of paperwork from the kids. Creating a family binder for important information has helped me stay organized. Each family member has a tab and his or her sports calendars, school directories and medical information are stored together. When I need something in a hurry, I know where to look. “I encourage families to give digital tools a try. They can use one family calendar app so everyone knows what is going on. Important papers can be scanned and computerized as well.” says Davis. “I try to be flexible and figure out what works for each family.”
Some parents may find it easier to go digital when it comes to storing their children’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 will make a photobook of their artwork.” Other apps that help save artwork are DearMuse or Keepy. Many of these apps have family sharing available.
The main thing to remember is this: the items we want to keep will 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 is 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, including three-year-old triplets. She loves reading, cooking and spending time outdoors. With six children in three schools, she is very familiar with the need to organize school papers and art projects.