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If you have young kids in school you know the challenge of keeping on top of all the papers and artwork they bring home. The school year has only just begun so you may not be overwhelmed yet, but in a couple months you’ll have lots of these treasures piling up! The key to staying organized is having systems in place for dealing with the stuff that comes into our lives. Before things get out of control, take a little time to set up a system for all that paperwork your kids bring home. Here are some simple ideas.
1. Be selective about what you keep – The key to preventing overwhelm is to be ruthless in purging the papers your kids bring home. Keep only the items that are most meaningful to you or your child. In order to make the tough decisions, think about which things say something important about them at their current age. Do they enjoy drawing or writing stories? What are their favorite school subjects? Try to keep only the best things that represent them at this moment in time.
2. Have a place to collect this year’s stuff – Have a container for hanging on to their paperwork and keep it in a convenient spot, ideally near the place they empty their school bags. I like the cases designed for scrapbook paper because they hold oversized items up to 12” x 12”. If you have more than one child, label a separate container for each one. Limit yourself to keeping to only what will fit in this container for the current year. When it gets full, sort through and purge some of what’s there.
It can be especially difficult to throw out the artwork that your children make. You can’t keep it all but you can make it easier to part with them by taking photos. Have your kids pose holding their creations to capture them at their current age with the things they are making.
3. Create long term storage – At the end of the year do a final sort and purge of your saved items and put all the papers you are keeping into long term storage. I recommend using a file box with hanging folders labeled by grade. The goal is to fit your child’s entire school career in this one box, so try to stick with just one or two folders per grade. It may not seem like a lot, but keeping just a small amount of stuff will make it much more likely that you and your kids will actually want to look through it in years to come.
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