Organizing Kids’ Artwork and Papers

This is a topic I’ve written about, helped clients resolve, and talked about to Mom’s groups and it is always sensitive. (How can I not keep every scrap of paper that Seamus or Chloe have created? The agony of making me choose!) Children bring home mountains of school papers and artwork to proudly show their parents how much they’ve learned and accomplished during their day. And it’s all beautiful. It’s wonderful but it can take over your home, room by room, if you’re not careful.

So let’s separate Artwork from School Papers (no longer to be capitalized) and address those separately. I’ll talk about school papers first. These are the report cards, progress reports, samples of school work (emphasis on the word “sample“), activity participation certificates, school play or concert programs, and even things not associated with school per se like important letters and cards say, from confirmation or kindergarten graduation, class photos, team photos, mentions in newspapers, etc. I think you get the picture. For all of this I recommend getting a plastic file box with a lid (the one pictured here is from the Container Store) for each child and creating hanging files for each school year and putting them in the box. As these papers come in and you want to keep them, file them in the appropriate spot. As your child grows you’ll be able to give them this responsiblity and eventually the whole box.

file box

Any discussion of artwork created by children can bring on a variety of emotions so I will insert my speech on memorabilia here:

          • there is no set rule for what you should keep
          • you’re not a bad parent if you throw some things away
          • not everything is a treasure. If everything is a treasure, nothing is a treasure. Think about that.
          • you and your child will have to work out what to keep long term

During a presentation I gave, someone asked me what they should keep every year as in, how many pieces of artwork. I couldn’t give her a specific answer because I can’t make that decision for her. There is no specific number. However, here are some suggestions for what to keep from each school year:

            • a sample of art that your child drew or painted
            • a sample of a craft that they created like pottery or needlework
            • a sample of their handwriting
            • a picture of them holding one or some of their favorites

I have a client who has a budding artist in her home so her volume of artwork archives is significantly larger. Her son likes to create large scale drawings  that end up being rolled up and stored vertically. I know she is planning on hanging some of the pieces and framing them but she will also have to cull through, with him, the specific pieces he’ll want to keep.

A suggestion that I thinks works well is to take pictures of the artwork, some of them with your child holding the artwork, and create a yearly book via Shutterfly or MyPublisher. If you follow the same format year after year you’ll have a wonderful collection of books to look through and that will look great on your bookcase.

The one rule I would suggest is to keep all Christmas ornaments that your child creates. These can be a fun journey through time for them and can also be passed on to them later. I still have a much prized ornament made lovingly from a cut toilet paper tube, glitter, and a bell. Unfortunately most of the glitter has rubbed off so people wonder why I hang a toilet paper tube on my tree.

How about you? What artwork and school papers do you keep? I’d love to hear how you manage this potential clutter creator.

Happy organizing!


One thought on “Organizing Kids’ Artwork and Papers

  1. Pingback: End of school organizing | Neatsmart

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