Figuring out how or organize school papers is an important task to tackle when your kids start school. If you don’t have an action plan right now, then it’s important to put together a game plan to store these keepsakes. It doesn’t matter if it’s the beginning of the school year, the end of the school year, or somewhere in between.
If you don’t have a game plan, you will either miss out on some incredible historical documentation, or you will have way too many papers to enjoy.
How to Organize School Papers:
All the papers, coloring pages, and reports your children tackle in each grade show how much they have learned and demonstrate how far they’ve come over the school year.
The problem is, if you keep them all, those papers can quickly overtake your home!
Thankfully, boundaries are beneficial in pretty much every area of life. That’s especially true when it comes to school papers that our kids bring home!!
Decide ahead of time how much space you will allow to be filled with school papers:
- Will you dedicate an entire filing cabinet to house their keepsakes?
- What about a large file box?
- Can you narrow down the “important” papers to a single desktop file box?
It can sometimes be a challenge to make the final call, but as Stephen Covey is so famous for saying, “start with the end in mind.”
Imagine your child’s graduation day. Imagine the day they get married and/or buy their first home. You will probably do as so many parents do…take all the boxes full of their kid’s stuff over to the new abode. Will your kids want the boxes? Will they want tubs full of their preschool coloring pages? Will they want to read through their 4th grade bird notebook?
But maybe not.
You, of course, know your child’s personality best.
You and/or your kids can streamline when that time comes. But I can say with almost certainty, that they will be thankful for a well-organized, small container (at the most) of their school memorabilia.
If you’ve been following i Dream of Clean or Spring Cleaning 365 for a while, then you might know that I’m a fan of digitizing as much as possible…as long as your digital world is organized.
However, I do think there are benefits for keeping a small amount of physical copies of your child’s schoolwork, especially while they are young. Young kids love looking at pictures of their sweet little faces. And based on experience with my own kids, they also like to look though artwork and schoolwork that they’ve done over the years.
When school papers are 100% digitized, they often gets lost in our digital document files and, sadly, the kids never have access to it.
So, today I’m going to share with you my system for keeping school papers organized throughout the elementary, middle school, and high-school years.
- Pre-K through 12 Labels AND Grade Cover Sheet
- Avery 5160 Labels (or the generic version)
- File Folders (in each child’s favorite color)
- Hanging Folders (in each child’s favorite color)
- Desktop file box (I like the ones that are open so I can easily put papers in. One less step make me more likely to keep them organized!)
HOW TO ORGANIZE SCHOOL PAPERS:
1. Gather your supplies.
Print the labels and grade cover sheet.
Then organize your file folders in your file box.
2. Have your child fill out the cover sheet in their own handwriting.
This is one my favorite parts of the process. It allows you to capture their handwriting, aspirations, and favorite things all one one piece of paper. Plus, you can attach their school picture or a snapshot of their first day of school.
3. Collect all school papers.
If you are starting at the end of the school year, then your pile might be as tall as your child. But if you get organized before the start of the school year, then you can process as you go.
4. Decide what stays and what goes.
This is something only you and your child can determine. However, here are some guidelines that I like to follow:
- If it’s a paper written in their own handwriting, keep only three similar items: one written at the beginning of the year, one written half-way through the year, and one from the end of the year. If you’re striving to be a true minimalist, you might even want to eliminate the “middle of the year” document.
- Determine what the one or two most important “tasks” they will learn over the school year. Pre-K may focus on coloring in the lines so it would be fun to see how your child progressed through the year. Kindergarteners may focus on writing so keep documentation for how their writing improved over the year. 2nd graders may begin writing small reports so that could be fun to look back on in years to come.
- Keep items that indicate their outlook on life. The imagination and perspective of a child is incredible. So anytime they write a story or answer questions about a particular topic, it might be worth keeping.
- Handprints and fingerprints are usually keepers. Of course, if your child comes home every day with these keepsakes, they might have to start going in the recycling bin. But, we all know how special a few handprints can be in the younger years. In future years, your child will love to see how small his/her hand once was.
Other than those few guidelines, it’s safe to say that pretty much everything else can be trashed or recycled.
Just like other areas of life, if a folder is crammed full, you are less likely to look through it in the future. And that’s why you are keeping these papers, right? To look through them in the future?
If that’s what you really want, then you have to do everything possible to put boundaries on the amount of school papers you keep.
If you find yourself wanting to keep more items than you have room in your file folder, consider the following:
- Give it some time. I try to go though my son’s school papers on a daily or weekly basis. I tend to keep too much at first. But when the file folder overflows, I go through the stack of “keepers” and realize that some of the papers aren’t really that interesting or important anymore. Time brings great perspective.
- Digitize the rest. You can easily scan papers that aren’t your absolute favorites (but are still pretty important). Then you can put the files on a flash drive or DVD and slip it in the appropriate file folder. It’s still organized and you can access those documents anytime you want.
Digitizing these keepsakes can be tricky if you aren’t used to it. So in the next few days I will publish and entire blog post about how to digitize school papers.
Until then, work to get your supplies in order so you can have system that you will actually use to organize your child(ren)’s school papers!
Oh, and if you have another system that you use, let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!