We are back with the June edition of the Clear the Clutter Challenge. This month, the focus is on how to organize school papers! The timing on this one is perfect! My kids just finished school last week and each of them came home with a backpack STUFFED with papers. Some years, I’ve taken a few days or even weeks to go through all of their end of school stuff, but this year, we looked through everything in a matter of minutes. Today, I’ll share our process for storing school papers and artwork!
But first, if you are new to the Clear the Clutter Challenge, I’ll recap our project from last month. The topic was garage organization and I shared inexpensive garage organization ideas.
I am happy to say that our garage has stayed organized over the last month and our new systems are really working out! The only bummer was that can of paint I spilled all over the garage floor-–ugh!!
My co-host Keri, shared her ideas for what to do when you don’t have a garage. My family and I have lived in a home without a garage (back when our kids were very little), so I could relate to her situation! Great advice!
How to Organize School Papers
Now on to this month’s topic on School Paper Organization. This project can be one of those tasks that you just want to walk away and deal with later. As the kids get into elementary school, the amount of papers, art projects and workbooks that they come home with can be OVERWHELMING! So.much.stuff.
Now that my kids have been in school for several years, I have come up with several good solutions for taking care of all of the papers.
Sort Through Papers All Year Long
The number one thing I do that makes my job at the end of the year a lot easier, is to sort through papers all throughout the year. When the kids bring home papers each day, I immediately look them over and decide what I need to keep and throw away. I try to deal with the papers I need to keep especially if it a form or permissions slip that requires action.
I try not to “touch” the papers more than two times. So I pick it up once to decide what to do with it and then I pick it up again to put in its final destination. The thought behind this “touch” approach is that you do not end up with piles and piles of papers that you just constantly move around.
It is necessary to be relentless in what you throw away. How often do we go back to our own school projects and papers and look at them? NEVER! Save a few items that represent your child’s creativity and get rid of the rest. You will not miss any of the discarded items!
Use a Bin/Basket to Organize Papers
I have one basket that I use to store all of the kids’ projects or papers that I want to keep. It is just one bin for all three kids, so when it gets full, I weed out anything that is no longer a keeper. This bin also contains things like report cards, certificates, concert programs and notes from teachers.
Keep this bin easily accessible so you can add to it on a daily and weekly basis. I find that this actually takes almost all year to fill up because I really only keep things I LOVE.
One Permanent File for Each Child
At the end of the year, I organize all of the papers we’ve decided to keep into a permanent file for each child. I have this exact extra large file for my kids. It is so big and perfect to store everything! The folder is divided up nine sections and you can label each section as you want. I have one section for each year.
My daughter is going into 6th grade and we still have plenty of room in this file. I like this folder because it is big enough to store papers and ART! Then there is no need to have a separate system for art work!
The main thing is to find a permanent solution that works for you! This could be a large storage tub, a file cabinet with a folder for each year or a storage box!
Involve the kids! I find that if I ask the kids if it’s an item they want to keep. As they have gotten older, they are better at letting go of items that are not favorites. Gone are the days of sneaking art projects into the trash!
Take pictures of art work you want to remember. You could even take a picture of your child holding the art work as an extra sentiment.
Make a scrapbook or picture book. Growing up my mom had a scrapbook of my elementary years and just made a few pages for each year. This book really captured the highlights including my school picture, report cards and a few special memories. Nowadays, you can make a photobook via Shutterfly or Snapfish in a matter of moments. This photobook could include memories from the school year, pictures of artwork and even pictures of special awards and report cards!
Make it a fun experience to go through end of school papers! Carve out a little time to work with each child individually and use the time to go down memory lane of the last year. Ask the child some of his/her favorite memories (don’t forget to jot these down somewhere!). It really is amazing to think another school year has gone by and it is fun to think about all that our children have accomplished! Let your child know what you remember most about the school year and what accomplishments of the child you are most proud of!
We have some EXCITING updates coming to the Clear the Clutter Challenge! Keri and I have been working behind the scenes to enhance the Challenge! In addition to staying connected on our Facebook Clear the Clutter group, we will be sending a monthly challenge checklist to our e-mail subscribers! This checklist will be just a little extra push to tackle those decluttering projects around the house!
If you are looking for previous month’s challenge, check out my new organization menu at the top of the blog! I’ve added all this year’s challenges to the link! Next month we will focus on ROAD TRIP/TRAVEL ORGANIZATION! Perfect time to get organized for all of our summer travel! Feel free to link your garage organization post below! Be sure to check out Keri’s ideas as well:)