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Managing Kids’ Art and Schoolwork

IMG-4793There are few certainties in life, but here’s one I’ve found to hold true: If you’ve got kids, you’ve got art and schoolwork…and lots of it! In my 12 years of parenting, I’ve seen lots of strategies, tried a few – and here’s what I’ve settled on…for the moment.

  1. Start the school year with a temporary storage box or bin. You’ll need one for each child (labeled so you don’t get confused) and they’ll need to be in an easy-to-access location. No worries if you didn’t have that in place this year. You can deal with this year’s memories and start the box method for this coming year.
  2. As art and schoolwork comes in the door, deal with it immediately…or at least weekly. Hang up a few gems, plop the best in your temporary storage box, and recycle the rest. Remember that less is more, but don’t put too much time/effort into this either. The point is to make it easy in the moment so everything ends up in one place. You will whittle it down later. If you want, write the month/year on the back of the keepers – but don’t let that slow you down from getting things into the box.
  3. Mid-way through the year – holiday break is a good time – weed through what you’ve saved so far. You’ll find that as time passes and more accumulates, it’s easier to curate your collection. This will also make sure you have enough room in the box for the rest of the year.
  4. At the end of the year, take everything out of the box and review the whole pile. Again, it’s easier to pick out the gems after some time has passed and you can see that whole collection – pick one snowflake, one family “portrait”, one writing sample, etc.
  5. Decide how you’re going to more permanently store the year’s memories and make it happen over the summer. There are lots of options, but some simple ideas are a file box with 1 hanging file folder per year or a binder using dividers for each year. There are high tech options too, like photo books or scanning services. Just don’t make it so complicated that it never gets done.

I am personally using binders because my kids like to look at their memories and I find the binders to be the easiest and most durable option. I’d rather have them enjoy them as they grow up than have them packed away for 20 decades and possibly never looked at again!

While there are many ways to preserve your kiddos’ precious art and schoolwork, the key to success is to have a plan and stick to it! And the most important parts of the plan are:

  1. Deal with art and schoolwork as it comes in the door!
  2. Make sure your temporary storage is easy to access and has enough room to store the favorites for at least half the school year.
  3. Process the current year’s memories (however you’ve decided to more permanently store them) before the next school year begins – ideally before your summer gets into full swing.
  4. Remember that less is more! The fewer items you keep, the more special they will be and the more inviting it will be to look through and enjoy them.