No More Pencils, No More Books!
Dealing with those school paper piles
The end of the school year is fast approaching for most of our children, and with it comes that huge influx of papers and projects that come home during the last few weeks. Once the last day of school has come and gone, take an afternoon or an evening to sit down with your child and go through their backpack and accumulated school papers from the year past. Don't wait too long to do this! Give them a day or two to savor the end of one routine and the beginning of another, but not long enough that the "summer haze" has set in! The amount of paper a child brings home throughout the year (and especially at the end of the year when desks and lockers must be cleaned out) can be overwhelming. Taking time at the end of the year, before summertime activities swing into action, not only reduces the amount of stuff that clutters up your house, but also gives you an opportunity to review and savor the highlights of their recent school year with them.
As you sort through their stuff, think about how much you really need to save. Keep only papers that are unique and special (every weekly spelling test doesn't really qualify!) Acknowledge that your home doesn't have unlimited space and that space should be reserved for things that are meaningful. A few, carefully chosen mementos mean much more than box after box of papers and projects that are left to molder in the basement or attic. Keeping less also makes it easier to access, making that occasional walk down memory lane much more fun!
For large projects, instead of saving that huge "Pilgrim village", snap a photo of your child standing next to their masterpiece. This way, you have a wonderful memento not only of the project, but also of your child at the age that he or she actually did the project, and it doesn't hog precious storage space.
The papers and pictures that you save can be stored in a number of different ways:
- The simplest is to designate a plastic bin as a "memory box", labeled with your child's name and added to at the end of each year. Again, before you buy the largest, 50-gallon bin available, consider how much storage space you have to dedicate to keeping things that may never see the light of day again!
- Another option is to use an artist's portfolio which will hold larger projects more easily. Check out this cool portfolio for saving kid's special papers and artwork: Schoolfolio.
- A popular choice is to make a memory book. Use that smaller, easy to access plastic bin to collect things throughout the year. Then, at the end of the year, after you've culled through and narrowed it down to the best of the best, fill a 2" clear-view binder with heavy-duty sheet protectors. Slide papers, pictures, ribbons & medals, cards, etc. into the protectors. Label the spine of the binder with the child's name and years included. You can also slide a picture of your child into the front cover. Consider one book for each of the following categories: pre-school through 2nd grade, 3rd through 5th grades, middle school, and high school through college (more space for those prolific elementary years!) This is a great way to make those special mementos easy to look through in future years, and to really mark their progression from kindergarten finger-paintings to their most sophisticated term papers and awards.
After you've done the paper sort, go through all of those other school supplies now. Toss dried-out markers and glue sticks, broken pencils, and anything else that can't be used in September. Store the rest in a clearly marked plastic bin or large zip-top bag for the fall to lighten your school supply bill at the end of August. When those supply lists come from your child's new teacher, you'll be ready!
Taking a little time now to preserve those precious, school-year memories makes your home less cluttered, their mementos more accessible, and your summer the relaxed family time it was meant to be!
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