Organizing Kids’ School papers and Art Projects

What to do with the growing stacks

By Sarah Lyons

If you have school-age children, you are most likely dealing with an ever-growing stack of school papers and artwork. Some of the papers may go straight to the recycle bin, but what do you do with the important papers and special artwork you would like to keep?

Start by sorting

Before you start organizing your child’s paperwork and art projects, decide what to discard and what to keep. “I keep things that reveal his personality,” says Kara Thomas, mom to a 10-year-old son. Set aside papers that show your child’s writing skills and artwork that you feel is unique to your child’s personality. Discard worksheets or daily papers. Make another stack of papers that have information you need such as calendars, directories or spelling lists. Try to sort items at least once a week so the paper stack does not get out of control. “Parents may want to feature their child’s artwork by hanging it in frames on the wall. This gives them the opportunity to enjoy it, then change the pictures over time,” says Stephanie Davis, a certified professional organizer.

Start a keepsake box

A keepsake box is a space for you to save items that mean something to you or your child. Stephanie suggests using a file box. “A keepsake box causes you to constantly purge and evaluate what you really want to keep.” Some parents may have a file for each grade level but Stephanie recommends sorting items by type, such as artwork, invitations, pictures, projects and adventures. This will give the file box a more defined purpose and is easier for the parent to maintain. “The keepsake boxes should be stored where they are easy to get to. If it is stored on a closet shelf, it is less likely to be used than if it is stored somewhere that is easily accessed.”

Create a family binder

As a mom of six, our family has our fair share of paperwork. Creating a family binder for important information has helped me stay organized. Each family member has a tab and their sports calendars, school directories and medical information are stored there. When I need something in a hurry, I know right where to look. “I encourage families to go digital,” says Stephanie. “They can use one family calendar app so everyone knows what is going on and important papers can be scanned and computerized as well.”

Go digital

Some parents may find it easier to go digital when it comes to storing their child’s artwork and school papers. “I use the Artkive app to store my kids’ art,” says Joanna Cline, mother of three. “At the end of the year I will make a photobook of their artwork.” Other apps that help save artwork are DearMuse or Keepy. Many of these apps have family sharing available.

The main thing to remember is that the items we want to keep will develop and change over time. As you add to your keepsake box, you may find that some items don’t seem as important a few years later and it is okay to discard them to make room for the things that you value now. Parents should never feel guilty about not keeping every single paper, painting and essay. Realistically, it’s only important to keep the items that mean the most.