Organizing School Papers

September 20, 2011 by  

Simple Steps to Organize Your Kids School Papers

school papers

School papers can be harder to deal with than if someone came in and dumped a garage truck full of trash in your driveway. Why? Because they are personal! Your children did them, worked on them and created them. That is why so many mom’s have trouble getting rid of them. They just love to see what their child has accomplished.
So can you keep everything all your kids do from the time the start school until they finish? Sure…if you want to live in a trash zone or store them in a storage unit so they can rot in there.
No..of course you can’t, and better yet, there is no reason you should.

Should you keep a few special papers each year so that you can enjoy them and they can see them when they grow up? Certainly! But only a few.

Here is a guideline to help you decide what papers to keep and what to get rid of.


How is that for simple? It gives you a limit, a guideline and a goal. Can you keep less than that….YES!!

But what if they have 1 really good picture that won a school coloring contest and then an A+ on their first big report, but they are in the same month? Ok…no problem, go back through the other months and decide on which one is not as important to keep as these.
So really it is 12 papers a year. Yes…you can use the summer months as a cushion.

  • Don’t keep all the worksheets that they do.  – They are worksheets..just to learn.
  • Look for the stories they wrote by themselves.
  • Look for the pictures they did not trace, but drew themselves.
  • Look for the reports they worked weeks on and were so proud of.

So what do you do with all the other pictures they drew, science fair projects with huge poster boards?

Take a picture!! Just like the above pictures. My triplets were thrilled to pose with their projects and loved that I liked them enough to take pictures of them. They don’t care if they don’t have that big poster shoved back in some cubby space in the basement anymore. They still have the memories..and that is all we need too.
You can scan them into your computer if small enough and you have the memory space on your computer.

You can create a photo book from some of these online places like Snapfish. Peter Walsh shared this idea on one of his Oprah shows. He said take pictures of their art work (you can put more than one of their pictures in the photo) and then at the end of each school year create one of these photobooks with their art work. There is room to write in the book accomplishments, teacher’s names, accomplishments for the year. This would be much nicer for them to have when they are older than a box full of papers.

You can have a bulletin board that you keep a special paper of the day or of the week on to showcase it if its a little special and they worked hard on it that week. This will make them feel proud. Then when you take it down, if its not that most special paper of the month…throw it away. (They do not need to see you physically throw it away, nor do you have to tell them – they will just be thrilled their new picture is up now.)

bulletin boardThis one is in our basement, in the kids zone.  Since we made a bedroom on the other side of these basement steps, we wanted to do something to block looking under the steps.  We placed three bulletin boards to block the opening… and also to provide a place the kids could display any artwork or school papers they wanted to.

If you keep everything….then nothing will seem special!!

Keeping big boxes of papers to give your children is a burden not a gift. They have to deal with getting rid of all the papers you felt to guilty getting rid of.
Being handed one box of things that goes from k-12 is not so bad, and photo books would be even better.

Remember, it is not like you are saying your child isn’t special or you don’t like the work they do by throwing it away. But keeping everything is not feasible if you want to have a home that is comfortable and not cluttered.


This post was adapted from a post I did in 2009.

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9 Responses to “Organizing School Papers”
  1. I whole-heartly agree with the idea of taking photos of kids projects – artwork, etc. But if there are some you just can’t part with, try the idea of painting funky frames on the basement steps at all angles, and then put up a favorite piece inside the frame! Works for us!

  2. Even though my son is only in daycare, he colors a picture every day. My husband and I look at them and comment to our 2 year old, but we know that the grandparents would like to see them, too. Periodically, I put a bunch of his colorings in an envelope and mail it to his grandparents. They love to see what he is doing.

  3. Sandy says:

    Great idea. Then they can keep one or two and take pictures of the rest and dispose of them.
    Not a kind thing to do if you have a Grandparent who has problems parting with things. In that case I would suggest a digital photo frame for them. I’m sure they’d much rather see your child holding their artwork in a picture.

  4. Gina says:

    I’ve included my kids in the sorting (and seeing how huge the piles get) since they were in preschool, and now they’re not so afraid to recycle their masterpieces. We also take a few and mail them to relatives.

  5. I completely agree with the taking a picture of it, instead of keeping it.

    What you can also do is if a piece of art is EXTREMELY special and you must see it everyday, you can buy a frame for it and hang it on a wall.

  6. Sandy says:

    Absolutely! Then it isn’t sitting in a bin somewhere, it is being enjoyed! Thanks!

  7. Janeen says:

    What’s bad is that I used to be the one in school to keep my own papers AND notebooks AND worksheets. I did get rid of most of that and kept a few projects I really felt I did well on (of course I don’t think I have most of those now). What’s tricky with my daughter is that I homeschool her through an online charter school so I have EVERYTHING and that’s been a challenge to my organization skills. Fortunately, I have a handle on it at the moment but I did get overwhelmed with papers for awhile!

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