Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you find some helpful hints for organizing your time and space. My passions are to help you make home a refuge instead of a crisis center, and to help you function in peace rather than chaos - at home or at work. I have switched my main blog to 1-2-3 ... Get Organized on WordPress, so please visit me there.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Getting Organized for School - Organizing Your Child's Artwork and School Papers

Along with school, comes all those papers! And art masterpieces. What to do with them? You want to preserve memories of your child’s school years, but you don’t want to train her to be a pack rat.

I’ll have to admit – I wasn’t very proactive in this area when my children were growing up. We’d sort through papers every once in a while, frame some, and store others, but we didn’t do it very consistently.

I researched this topic when asked to contribute to an article written by Mary Beth Breckenridge at the Akron Beacon Journal (Preserve your Children's Masterpieces without Creating a Mountain from Paper Memoirs, September 5, 2005). I found some great ideas I wish I had used.

So today’s blog comes primarily from the article Mary Beth wrote from the hints that two other organizers (Deniece Schofield and Chris Perrow) and I contributed. And I’ve added a couple I’ve come up with since then.

First, choose a receptacle for such papers. It could be a file folder, a hanging file, an art portfolio (or one made by taping two pieces of poster board together), a box, a binder with protector sheets - whatever works for you and your child.

Before storing your child’s artwork, you may want to display them. You could create a gallery in your child’s room or elsewhere by hanging a colorful piece of string or yarn across a wall and clip the artwork to the string. Voila – instant gallery.

Or use a picture frame to house artwork, swapping out the front picture when a new keeper comes along, storing the other pictures behind the most recent one. And there’s always the refrigerator or a bulletin board.

Another option is to turn the artwork into placemats (by laminating them), wrapping paper or greeting cards. A glass-covered coffee table can show off artwork under the glass. Or turn your child’s artwork into a calendar. Create a collage with several pieces of artwork. There are even companies that turn your child’s artwork into a book.

Artwork that doesn’t make it into the keeper file can be sent to grandma or to our troops, if it seems too cruel to toss them.

With your child, clean out her backpack at the end of the week. Some papers will not be sentimental and will go easily into the recycling bin. Try to encourage your child to choose only one item a week to keep. Label the back of the paper with the date and a description, especially if the picture may not be readily identifiable!

Some weeks may be more prolific than others, and it may be too traumatic to narrow it down to one item. If you don’t mind, and you have enough room, make exceptions here and there. There may be items you treasure, but your child doesn’t see the value in them at her age – keep those, too.

At the end of the month, as you are evaluating that week’s papers, look back over the previously stored papers to see if some of the sentimentality has decreased for the earlier keepers. Time has a way of diminishing the attachment. Repeat every month.

For large three-dimensional projects take a picture rather than storing the entire project. Large art pieces can be taken to a copy center and reduced to a manageable size.

At the end of the school year, determine if your storage is adequate to house that year’s keepers. If not, purge until it is. Label the container with your child’s name and the year.

For family night one night, take out the keepers for the last few years and reminisce – what a fun memory!

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