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.

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How to organize school pictures and kids’ stuff

Our kids had school pictures taken this week. I’m always excited to see them. We tell them to “smile easy”, sometimes they try so hard, their smiles are SOO big and their little faces are all scrunched.  Regardless of whether the pics are great or not-so-great, I like to store each year’s picture along with their class picture in a file box.  How do I keep ’em all organized?

Each kid has their own schoolwork memory box, I like to use the Stockholm letter file box from The Container Store.   Each box has 15 hanging files to accommodate pre-school through grade 12.  I printed out cute labels for each of the interior file folders to mark each year and I also print out 15 school picture memory cards on cardstock.  I always order (2) 5″ x 7″ pictures and when I receive them, I put one up on the refrigerator and save the other one.  I mount the photo to the picture memory card with double sided permanent tape and I mount the class picture to the back.  Here’s what the memory box looks like.  (this isn’t the Stockholm box– will update post with new pics soon)

School paper file box 1
















There is a limit to the amount of items you can store, proud parents, so think twice about whether or not you want to store the cute picture your child painted this week.  The Stockholm file box is about 17″ deep, so there is plenty of room for class pictures, report cards, and a few cute items from the school year.  Definition of “few”: a small number, a handful, one or two, a couple, two or three; not many, hardly any.  So, only keep the real masterpieces or what is really meaningful.  Like when our oldest wrote a letter to one of his sisters apologizing for something that happened, and says he’ll always take care of her, that went in the bin.

Here are the class photo memory cards:

















I get asked a lot about how to store kids school stuff, so I hope this helps.  It’s just a suggestion, might or might not work for you.  It’s hard to throw away the beautiful things your children have created.   I’ve worked with older couples whose children are grown and have families of their own,  and they want to declutter their garages and attics and I can tell you that not one of their grown children wanted the multitude of boxes of “stuff” that the parents had saved in big bins….  just sayin’. Now, you’re not going to be able to put the coming-home-from-the-hospital outfit into this box…. more on that next.