School is OUT! Organizing Kid's Papers

The days of your child walking in the house, plopping a full book bag on the floor along with their shoes and then running off to the snack cabinet have come to an end. At least for the next 10 weeks! Now that school is out, it's time to reclaim your house from the invasion of school papers, artwork and projects! Before any decisions can be made you should consider whether you've been collecting these precious works of art for you or your child? If you plan to keep collecting until they head off to college, where will you store it all for the next 10+ years? Furthermore, are these the habits you want to teach your children? Yes, these difficult questions are the first step through an emotional process. The good news is that the act of organizing these mementos is quite easy. Implementing guidelines early on and sticking to an organizational plan will keep you from getting stuck and digging yourself out of piles of papers or projects years down the road. The best way to do this is to get the whole family on board so you aren't the only one making these difficult decisions of what to purge and, perhaps most importantly, what to keep. Sorting This is an activity that some children will enjoy participating in because of how empowering it can be. Start sorting into three piles labeled: "keepers", "items to share" and "recycle". Always keep in mind that you are teaching clutter management skills your children will take into adulthood. It's important to let them know that all their work has value because of how much they learn but it's not practical to keep it all.

Preserving Memories As you work together to sort all of the work, rewards, and projects reminisce about how far they've come that school year. Set limits for your child by asking them to select their top 10 favorites from the "keepers" pile. As they select their favorites, ask them to explain what makes them special and note those memories on the back of the paper or on a post-it note. Parents can then take their turn to select a few items that capture the highlights of the year. Teach them that keeping everything doesn't allow any of it to stand out.

When selecting storage for these "keepers", think about making them accessible for later viewing. You can put together a 3-inch binder with plastic sheet covers that display and preserve the work. Another option is to use a hanging file storage bin; it has similar benefits but can be more accessible. Whether you choose a binder or folder, labeling with grades Pre-K -12th is essential for storage and retrieval. It is perfectly acceptable to capture the essence of their work digitally, as well. These storage solutions provide families clarity, which is often necessary when heartstrings are involved. Upcycling Take the schoolwork that's leftover in the "keeper" pile and combine it with the "items to share" pile. Next, discuss which ones would be nice to mail to a family member or long distance friend along with a letter about their summer plans, or upcycle as a homemade birthday card. This is a great way to repurpose the work and can be a fun rainy day craft over the summer.

The fact that this organization was accomplished is something everyone can be proud of. Make it a tradition to do this at the end of every school year. Keep an eye out for my fall organization tips for sorting and managing paperwork throughout the school year. This will undoubtedly make the end of year sorting project even easier.

Clarity Co. Organization & Productivity Services

Lexington, KY

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