The end of the school year is around the corner. Kids are bound to bring back all the schoolwork and artwork that hasn’t found its way back home during the course of the school year. Let’s face it, dealing with paper can be overwhelming, but even more so when it has been created by our own children. And the younger they are, the more prolific they are, and the guiltier we feel about letting go of their masterpieces! Sounds familiar? Read on to find out my approach to dealing with kids’ schoolwork.
DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR:
- Put homework, tests, drawings, etc. that your child brings back home in a box that can hold A4 paper. Don’t worry about what to keep and toss at this stage. The only exception for me is the report card which I treat as vital information. Scan it right away and file the soft copy on your computer and the original in your child’s education file if you don’t want to let go of it. The soft copy will be handy when you apply for a new school as the process is likely to be done online.
AT THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR:
- Sort through the box. It should be easier to decide what to keep and toss now that you can see all there is at once. Keep only the best pieces, the ones that show progress and that mean something to you. Unless there is a risk of turning it into a conflict, it’s best to involve your child in the sort. Kids tend to be more realistic than their parents and while we may see everything as amazing/clever/creative etc., it is usually easier for them to let go. There are exceptions of course, and in that case, it may be worth doing it on your own or waiting a few years to tackle such a project.
- Transfer all the items that you have decided to keep in a hanging file and place the file in a file box. Your file box should hold as many files as the number of your child’s school years i.e. 12 from Grade 1 to Grade 12, more if you want to include kindergarten years. Label the file with the grade and year, and if you have time and feel creative, personalise it with a portrait of your child taken at school, etc.
- Get rid of the items you don’t want to keep. The box that was holding them will now be empty and ready for the next school year.
NOW FOR OVER-SIZED AND 3-D ARTWORK…
- Take a picture of each piece when it comes back home. Have your child in the picture if s/he feels like it. You can add the picture to the box with the rest of the schoolwork, or put it in a photo album, or just store it on your computer.
- Put the original piece of artwork on display until the next piece comes in.
- Decide whether to keep the original artwork or not. Be very selective about what you keep. It should be easier now you have a record of it (the picture). Keep it in a large box or container. Discard or recycle the rest, grandparents will be delighted to inherit some of their grand-children artwork. The size of the box will limit the extent of what you keep over your child’s school years. If it gets too full, then you know it’s time to let go of some more.
I must confess that I have kept about 50% of what my son has brought back from school since he started kindergarten at the age of 2. He will complete grade 6 in a few days and although I have kept his schoolwork neatly organised in magazine holders for each year, my storage unit has reached its limit. So I will put into practice this summer what I have advocated here. What about you? Do you think you could tackle this project too? If you do, please let me know how it has been going for you.