It’s coming, like a tsunami. Right now everything looks peaceful, but in a blink of an eye all the backpacks overflowing with papers determined to consume your kitchen are on their way. I remember one time when I finally decided to clean out Katie’s backpack in third grade, I came across something that made me cringe as a parent. It was a special invitation to attend an award ceremony because Katie has made the top 98% in the nation on a standardized science test and she was going to be celebrated in front of the entire school. It happened the previous week so I completely missed it! I hung my head in shame for that one. It can be completely overwhelming, but don’t despair. You have turned here for help and I am going to share some ideas to help. A few things put into place right now will help you organize for the school year ahead.
Before school even starts, take some time to clean out last year’s forms, spelling sheets, tests, and artwork. Keep what you want but purge, purge, purge anything unnecessary. You want to do everything you can to start with a clean slate.
The best way to begin is to establish an area for the onslaught of papers you know are coming. Have a box with each child’s name on it and train them to put the papers into their box the first minute they get home from school. For younger children, that will be enough. Gradually, though, your goal will be for your child to come in and sort through the work. Throw away trash, put in the box the work she wants you to see, and put the work that needs to be signed or have some sort of response on top. Many schools have folders or planners with this important information and it should always be placed on top.
This is a great first step, but you will still have mountains of schoolwork and projects to deal with. Here are some ideas to keep the tsunami of papers at bay:
- One solution is to take photographs of the artwork, print them and put them together in a photo album. You could take this a step further and have them turned into hardbound books that can be made online or at a local pharmacy photo center.
- Another digital solution is to scan your child’s schoolwork and save them as pictures. Then you can put them into a digital photo frame and scatter them within family photo favorites for everyone to enjoy!
- Sometimes less is more. Have your child pick his favorite artwork and put it in a prominent place (on the fridge or inside a picture frame) and switch it out weekly or monthly with a new piece of work that is worthy of a place of honor. The original artwork or schoolwork can be scanned and filed, or put away in a binder labeled for each school year.
- With all of the artwork or special schoolwork, please remember to label it with your child’s name and age/grade. You will want to have those attached to your special memories when you look back at all of the progress your child has made over the years.
- If the artwork is, say, a volcano science project, you might consider taking a picture of your child holding the masterpiece, then quietly dispose the project while the family enjoys the pictures.
- Get creative! Perhaps you can send some of the artwork or great papers to grandma and grandpa’s house for enjoyment. It keeps generations in touch and lessens your burdens of what to keep.
If you have any suggestions to get ready for the school year, please share in the comments below.