Talking about kids’ school work today! What to save and what to toss. I’ve been a bit scattered this week. Attending too many random appointments and meetings. Putting out one fire after another. Hopping from one project to the next. And doing a whole lot of organizing in-between.
So you could say it has been a typical week around here. :) I tore my office apart.. again. And while I’m still trying to figure out what to do about my kids’ albums (that I never have time to work on!) I think I’ve finally figured out how I want to organize all of their artwork. I’ve had a few systems in place that I’ve shared before, but lately I’ve been feeling like I need something better. I’m excited to get everything organized and my new system in place! And to have my family room floor back. ;)
When I posted my reader survey in January and ask you what some of your biggest organizing challenges were, one thing I heard over and over was the challenge of all things PAPER. Especially all of the paper kids bring home from school. It’s quite insane isn’t it? The sheer amount of school work and art work that they produce and bring home. It can definitely be overwhelming and I know it can often be hard to decide what to keep and what to toss so I thought I’d share my thought process when it comes to saving kids’ school work.
First – I don’t save a lot. I really don’t. Often I’ll set things aside in a pile that I think I want to save, but then when it’s time to go through the pile I usually only end up saving a small amount of what I set aside. Because here’s the thing. I have a box of school work that my mom saved for me from when I was in school. I love it and I’m so glad I have it. But the last time I looked through it was about 10 years ago.. maybe longer? And I’m so grateful that she didn’t give me 10 boxes to store. I want my kids to have a handful of special things from each school year that bring back fun memories. I don’t want them to be burdened with too many papers that are a pain to store.
The school work I save usually falls into one of these categories:
1 – It has special meaning to me or my kids.
2 – It shows their personality or growth.
3 – It makes me smile and tugs at my heart when I see it.
Here are some examples of things I saved and things I tossed..
These are a couple of reports/projects El did in 4th grade. They are informational (happy she learned a lot about the Wood Duck!) but they don’t hold any meaning so they were tossed.
This is a report/project El wrote on La Jolla Cove that same year. La Jolla Cove is a spot in San Diego we love to visit and spend time together as a family. Aside from researching the area, El also wrote about times we’ve spent there and included lots of family pictures of us playing on the grass and watching the waves and the seals. It will be so fun for her kids to someday see where their mom liked to play and hang out. Keeper for sure!
p.s. A fun spot to check out if you are ever visiting San Diego! :)
I toss most miscellaneous school work. Daily worksheets, tests, random school assignments. We hang things like this up on bulletin boards in our kitchen pantry for a couple of weeks and then they get tossed. I might save one test or quiz from a school year just so my kids have a sample of how they did in a certain subject, but that’s it.
A few things I saved. I’m a sucker for notes my kids write to each other so I saved Kole’s birthday letter to Addison. She’ll appreciate that someday. :) The top middle paper is a story Ad wrote about the first time my sister and I took her and her cousin Claire on Space Mountain at Disneyland. It is hilarious! A funny moment we all laugh about and she’ll want to remember. I usually save things that have pictures of my kids on them at that stage (courage page on the top right). ‘All About Me’ books that include lots of fun tidbits about my kids at that age are always saved. And last but not least, I’m a sucker for hand drawn family pictures. I don’t think I’ve tossed one yet. I always look radiant in them. ;)
Kids come home with a lot of art work. It’s all precious and beautiful and so fun to display in our home for a while. But after it has been displayed it usually gets tossed. I know there are a lot of great apps out there that you can use to take pictures and save kids’ art digitally. Personally I just don’t need to photograph and save it all. If it’s something really special to my child or to me I save it (and I want the original!). Everything else is just part of their learning process and gets recycled. These are all examples of art that didn’t hold meaning for any of us and so it was all tossed.
This is one art project that I did keep. It is a self portrait El drew. I love this so much. From her short hair (I loved it that length!) to the freckles on her cheeks to the “more rainbows less rain” shirt she has on (her favorite shirt that year that she wore over and over) to all of the pandas in the background (she has had a major panda obsession for years). It’s all just so HER at that stage of her little life. Definitely one to save.
More things that were tossed. All great work that was displayed for a while, but nothing that holds any meaning or felt special to me or the kids.
And a few more things that I kept. A couple of Kindergarten math worksheets for Kole so he can see what his handwriting looked like in math that year. A writing portfolio that holds all of the writing El did in 6th grade (I LOVE it when teachers compile things like this!). And Kole’s preschool graduation hat. I kept his hat for two reasons. One because it has his handprints on it and I always save things with handprints!
And two because his Preschool graduation day was so meaningful for us. I cried! We realized when Kole was two years old that he had some delays and I worked incredibly hard for several years with him and a variety of therapists to get him where he needed to be. He had amazing preschool teachers who we loved and were so grateful for. They loved Kole and felt like family! By the end of the year he was completely caught up and ready to start Kindergarten at grade level (an amazing accomplishment that his early therapists didn’t think was possible). So yeah.. special day for our family and I will always treasure this picture and his cute little pre-school graduation hat. :)
So that’s it! A little look into what I keep and what I toss when it comes to kids’ school work. The paper struggle is real my friends! You have to tackle it head on. Deal with paper immediately. Toss a lot more than you keep. Figure out a way to organize and save what you hang on to. I’ll be sharing my new system at some point to give you a few ideas!
Until then you can find me attending too many random appointments and meetings, putting out one fire after another, hopping from one project to the next..
and chipping away at the mess on my family room floor.