Here’s a two-minute video featuring five tips for organizing the papers that tend to inundate our homes at the end of the school year.
Tip #1: Single Spot
Ask your children to place all of their papers in a single spot, as soon as they walk in the door from school. (We do this on a daily basis, and our “spot” is the left-hand corner of the kitchen counter. But at the end of the school year, we typically need the whole dining room table as a “spot” where everything can go to be sorted.)
Tip #2: Recycle
Initially do a quick sort of everything in your “spot”–recycling as many papers as possible. Most of them don’t need to be kept at all.
Tip #3: Use the Sneaky Sorter
Throughout the school year, you can keep two baskets in your kitchen, laundry room, or a nearby area, and use them to sort the papers you can’t immediately throw away. One basket is for the items you will most likely KEEP. The other is for items you will most likely THROW AWAY/RECYCLE. You don’t have to make these decisions right away, but these baskets help “incubate” your items in one of two general categories until you’re ready to deal with them. At the end of the school year, you may want to have children help you go through the items in your “KEEP” pile and those that have lingered in your “RECYCLE” basket and help you determine which are most special.
Tip #4: Use Banker Boxes for Permanent Storage
We give each child one banker box for every five years, so by the time they leave our home, they’ll have four boxes of school papers to take with them. If their papers don’t fit in the box, they have to figure out which ones can go. . . . (This has worked beautifully so far.) Some families find that it works well to help children create a binder for every 2-3 school years containing their most special items. At the end of each school year, children can sort through everything they’ve saved during the year or brought home at the end of the year and put their favorite school projects and keepsakes into page protectors, nicely organized in the binder.
Tip #5: Take Photographs!
At the end of the year, we always do a “photo shoot” of the art projects, dioramas, and sculptures that won’t fit into our boxes. Our children have fun modeling each item, and they typically take pictures of each other, so it’s a fun activity to keep them busy. (Digital photos are stored chronologically on our external hard drive.)
QUESTION: Do you have additional paper-sorting/keepsake-storing ideas you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them!
CHALLENGE: Resist the urge to let papers pile up, and work alongside your children to come up with a paper selection/storage solution that works for you family.
For more ideas on handling school papers and homework, check out our School Paper and Homework Mastery Kit.