Help! What Do I Do With All My Kids' Papers?

Tips on how to organize your children's school work this summer.

Summer is here! Kids come home with their anticipated report cards, but tons of their artwork, homework folders and projects from throughout the school year.

Perhaps you’ve collected them in a stack of papers still piled on the dining room table. What to do with them now? What do you save or throw away? Hmmmm … What did your parents do?

It’s always fun to try a new approach to old problems, so decide that this year will be different! Set aside some time, add a little determination and energy and be sure to involve the kids!

Follow these few suggestions for a summer project to get organized and start fresh for the next school year. With a wastebasket and recycle bin handy, gather up that messy stack and take a plunge through the paperwork:

1. Sort—Go through each child’s pile separately and decide what to keep/toss /recycle. Collect pieces from the fridge, backpack, car, etc.

2. Organize—For the keepsake items, buy x-large envelopes at the office supply store or purchase an artist’s portfolio at the local art store, one for each child and each school year; (I bought a dozen to last a while. My kids even enjoy labeling and decorating the folders we choose)

3. Label—Mark each folder with your child’s name, grade and year

4. Storage—Once sealed, place them under the bed, in the closet or wherever works best.

5. Go high tech—If you’re technology savvy and don’t want to keep the papers, take photos, or scan them and make a digital scrapbook. What a wonderful gift to give to your kids when they’ve grown up—great for small home spaces, too.

6. Reuse—Children’s art works wonders as wrapping paper or a personal greeting card. 

How refreshing to start the new school year with a clean space and organized memories. Next fall set up an in-box for each child (at their level works best), so they can participate and sift through more recent projects in both December and June. Less fuss and a lighter burden builds anticipation, begins a habit and becomes a family affair, enjoying the wonderful pieces of art work together.

Enjoy summer!

To learn more about moms' coach Carrie Vawter-Yousfi, please visit her website at www.TheMommysCoach.com.



Sheila Sanchez June 14, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Thanks for these tips, Coach Carrie! Good to see you today and appreciate all your help and suggestions on how to stay organized and help our families! I like to throw away stuff. My mother was big on throwing, discarding papers, even stuff we wanted to keep and now we realize she was right all along. Too much stuff to store! Good idea to go through everything and really, really ask the question whether the work will be something you'll find valuable in 50 years! Please add your suggestions at the end of this piece! Much appreciated.
Tamara Archer June 14, 2012 at 05:14 AM
With teenagers, the sheer volume of has definitely slowed but you've hit one of the soft spots I struggle with. It's so hard to toss many of those memorable poems, drawings, crafts etc. Our children each have memorabilia banker box that we store in the garage. But the idea I like the best is to scan the original works and create an 8 1/2 x 11 book for each year for each child. The 'yearbook' format lends itself more to sitting on the sofa for trips down memory lane and it's more likely to be enjoyed for years to come. The organizer in me loves the consistent sizing too...
Carrie Vawter-Yousfi June 14, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Thank you for your comments. Creating yearbooks and going through papers regularly helps you stay in control on the situation!
Heather O'Neil June 20, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Great ideas! Did you read the survey about parents feeling guilty about throwing their kids’ drawings away? Here are some more ideas for storing, displaying and making keepsakes from kids’ art. http://www.happydoodles.com/blogs/news/6041344-63-of-parents-feel-guilty-about-ditching-kids-artwork
Lenore Sanborn July 12, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Thank you for touching on this hot topic! Also consider how you would most like to experience these things again: in a book? in frames? All the time or once-in-a-while? Pairing down helps a lot. Here are a few other ideas I give to clients: *SHOWCASE THE BEST- maybe one per child (in our family: a self-portrait from 1st grade & a California Mission watercolor from 4th). How will it feel when their work is showcased on the wall? *PHOTOGRAPH THE LOT!: At the end of the school year (or quarter in preschool), spread everything out with the child's name, grade & year on a paper & take a photo of the whole thing. Now it's preserved for posterity & you can "thin" guilt-free! (BONUS: Stick it on a page w/school & class photo for the year... and the school album is done in 15 minutes/2 pages/year!) *If scanning is a challenge, taking photos instead might work well for you. *CELEBRATE WHAT IS CURRENT: Some of my clients use magnetic display boards (like this: http://bit.ly/NmP7lb) so they can change-out the artwork they showcase seasonally (handprint turkeys in fall; tissue paper flowers in spring). Each season, walk down memory lane together! *SHARE! When we thin out our stash, my children pick their favorite(s) to keep/display & we split up the rest between family & friends. During the summer, they send meaningful mementos along with a thoughtful letter to keep up the family connections and their writing skills! I hope this helps!


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