Thursday, January 24, 2013

Corralling Children's School Work... For LIFE!

Children's papers seem to be a constant headache for parents. I mean, how do you know what to keep? What's going to be the "greatest" piece of artwork from that period in your child's life? Do you keep everything? Should you keep anything? Because questions like this are hard to answer, we delay making decisions about paper. Do you know what happens when we do that? PILES AND PILES OF PAPER CLUTTER!!

That is what I had during Eliana's toddler and preschool years. I lost a lot of papers I would have liked to have kept, and I had random toddler scribbles that I couldn't remember the importance of. It was a mess. Last year Eliana was in Kindergarten and I realized I HAD to find a paper solution if I was going to maintain my sanity. I found an idea somewhere (pinterest, probably) and ran with it. Eliana's papers were sufficiently corralled and I was able to take time one summer day to decide what to keep and what to toss. It was great! The downside was that at the end of the year I didn't know WHERE to put the papers we'd decided to keep. Again, pinterest came to my rescue and I adapted another idea to help me over the next 10 years as I keep accumulated kiddo paperwork. I'm not suggesting it's a perfect solution for everyone, but it works pretty great for me!

Here's how the system works...

Eliana comes home from school and the papers from her folder go into that week's file. I have 4-5 files for each month, depending on how many weeks are in the month. At the beginning of a month, I take the empty files for the month and put them in this bin in our mud hall.

At the end of the week, I take the filled file and store it out of the way until the month's end. Here's what my little paperwork storage corner in the closet looks like...

Do you see where I store the files? Easy to access papers for the month.

At the end of the month, the set of 4-5 filled files for the month go into a small file tote and the empty files for the next month come out. It takes a couple minutes once a month. Easy! As the year goes on, the file tote fills up month by month with miscellaneous school work and art. Upcoming months are in the front of the tote and are cycled to the back as they are filled.

At the end of the year, sometime in the summer, I sit down with Eliana and we go through her papers to decide what is still important to her (if we did this weekly EVERYTHING would be important. Give it a couple months after school is out and the novelty has worn off, except for things she really did like.) and what I'd like to keep and the rest goes away. As the file folders are emptied, I put a sticky note with the papers telling when they were created. Then the pile of "keepers" gets filed in the larger bin, by grade level.

I used colored hanging file folders to distinguish between pre-school, elementary, and secondary years, as well as a separate section for Report Cards, Awards and Honors, Photos, and Mementos. I'm so excited to have a place to put all those random birthday cards she wants to keep! They are mementos! Hooray!

As you can see from the above picture, her Kindergarten paperwork is filed away, as is her preschool paperwork. As the years go by, it will get fuller and fuller and, eventually, Eliana will move out of the house and I will send her file bin with her, with everything neatly categorized for her.

It takes a couple minutes once a month, a couple hours once a year, and keeps me sane for the remainder of her years of bringing home paper projects! Now... if only dealing with my OWN paperwork were that simple!

No comments:

Post a Comment