If you are a parent like me, I do not have to tell you how difficult it can be to keep up with the vast amount of school papers and children’s artwork that arrive during the week. Literally, I get school and artwork almost everyday. With four kids all in elementary school and pre-school, the paperwork can be daunting. It is challenging to keep track and organize them; however, they are also difficult to throw away because their precious school work holds so many memories.
Kids put a lot of time into creating these school and art projects, and the last thing you want to do is throw them away. It is a treasure for them (and you), so giving them extra appreciation and keeping them will mean a lot.
However, as you progress in organizing the files, you may not be aware in the moment in the day to day whether those art pieces are "throwawayable" or if they can truly be organized. On the other hand, no matter how good these paintings, handwritten holiday cards, and even perfect test scores, some days feel more like trash than treasures during the school year.
In this post, I share a simple and practical organization system on how to keep track of kid's art projects, schoolwork, test papers, etc., by using the following school work organization system.
Create an Intake System
Chances are, you'll have piles of paperwork and school projects you want to organize, but you don't have the time to during the week. The best recommendation I have is to keep a letter tray or bucket to store all the school work or projects you'll need to organize. I call this the intake process.
It will be your temporary holding container. It should be big enough to keep your kid's documents that might include school test papers, invitations, doodles, drawings, paintings, awards, etc. For my preschooler and elementary age kids, I generally get a lot of art projects that are 3D and would need to be stored outside of a normal binder.
Here's what it normally looks like at the beginning of the year:
When school and activities start, here's the pile mid-year as I continue to progress and organize when I have time in the margins of life:
I make sure that I have a lot of headroom to store all of their crafts. Do you notice the pinecone with glitter in the middle of the stack?
An example of how this works day to day: When your children/child arrive at home, let them show you their masterpieces of the day. If you do not have time or do not know how to you will be displaying them in your refrigerators or any display areas in your home, you can store them in the intake container until you can come up with the idea on how you can appreciate them, or how you can use it as a memorabilia.
Here's what mine looks like. It's a double stacked letter tray that has some room at the top for the chunky projects. The kids all know that this tray is what I use to store things I don't have time to organize just yet.
Deciding What School Work or Art Projects to Keep
Once you actually have time to organize your kid's school work, grade tests adn exam, projects, and art work, you can take out the intake container. If your kids are 4 years of age or older, it's really fun to have them be part of the organizing process because they can help you decide what paper or art work that is memorable for them as well.
Here are some of the sample papers you may want to keep for memory's sake:
- Awards/Certificate of Achievements
- Special Cards
- Short Stories
- Special Notes from the teachers
- Report Cards
- Diplomas (real and fake ones like preschool diplomas)
In order to not hoard too many projects, it's best to pare it down to a good collection that symbolizes their most cherished memories and proudest achievements for each year.
Finding the Best Containers for School Work and Art Projects
Once you have decided what the best school papers to store are, there are many ways to organize them. Organizing your school papers by grade will make things simple. For me, I use binders organized by school year. The binders have my kid's name, grade, age at the start of the school year, and school year term.
Other ways to organize them is a combination of what I just listed including full year, age, and school.
Here are probably the quickest and easiest approach in storing and managing your children's schoolwork:
- Bins and/or Boxes
I prefer binders because I am then able to flip through a book of all their art projects. I also have a way of seeing photos of them when they were that age because I choose binders that have a clear sleeve in front.
Organizing School Work and Art Projects
After you choose the system and method you want to organize, you can add a label to the front of each storage. If you decide to use a binder, it is best to label the spine of the binder. You can do your labels by using markers, print, use a Cricut machine, or create custom labels online.
As a tip, you can add each grade's calendar years, school name, and teacher name on your labels.
You can also do your school work organizer by using designated storage for each type of school paper you want to store. For example, assign a specific folder for every child's artwork or a binder specifically for report cards or diplomas.
These are binders I would recommend purchasing for organizing your kids artwork.
These are binder labels that would work really well to add in your kids names and their ages (along with school year):
Bins and Boxes
Bins and hanging file folders are great for storing kids art work. In the basement, I store our kids large pieces in plastic bins that cannot fit the binders.
Displaying Kids Artwork and School Memorabilia
There are various ways to set up a kid’s school organizer. Here are some other unique ideas you can do to manage these stacks of kids creativity:
Create a Book with Art Work
You will need to gather all your kid's artwork throughout the year to do this. You will also need a durable stapler and cardboard or any piece of paper to use as a cover for your book.
Get an Open Display Cabinet Frames for Artworks
If you want a frame where you can easily display and remove special kids' artwork, an open door frame will be an effective and effortless way. Close the frame door after adding your kid's latest creation.
Decluttering Kids Artwork
Every child's masterpiece is exceptional, so it is common to be sentimental in every piece. But let's face it – you do not need them all to display on your art wall, art frame, or even on your binders to keep the memories. Having a clean and clear space in your home will help you reduce your cleaning time, which means more time making new and enjoyable memories with your kids.
However, if you could not help but keep it all, here are some tips for decluttering kids art work:
Keeping It Digital
Aside from the software apps I'll be mentioning below, you can also do it more simply. You can photograph every artwork you do not want to put on the container or do not want to throw away either. Make a digital scrapbook or a photo album, or store it on your computer files.
Mail as a Gift
Handcrafted or handmade products are considered more worthy. So using your kid's artwork as a gift will be a good idea not only to save money and declutter but also to boost your kid's pride.
Learn to Let It Go
Let us not make things complicated – throw some of it away! Keep in mind that your child will not want everything. Save only what you think is an essential school paper for your child.
Review Collection Year’s End
At the end of the year, I recommend sitting with your kid and looking through your kids' school organizer. Doing this will be a fun activity, not only to look back and reflect on those joyful memories but also to help you both declutter and decide.
To do this, invite your kid to help you choose their favorite school paper or artwork. This activity will help you both recognize what is more valuable and meaningful to the both of you. In this way also, you will avoid the trouble, sadness, and guilt of throwing away anything significant to your child.
Digitizing Kids School Work and Art Work
Organize your kid’s school paper in a more modern and innovative way. This method will free up your fridge and give you more space as you do not need a storage area for the paperwork in your house. I’m sharing the following digital options in organizing your kid's artwork.
Art My Kid Made
Art My Kid Made is a free mobile application that allows you to share your children's artwork. It’s a quick and easy way when you've run out of space on your fridge and walls. You can also share it with Evernote so you can share it with your family and friends.
Keepy enables you to digitally maintain your kid's artwork, schoolwork, and souvenirs simply and confidentially. You can also use it to stay organized and save your family memories. You can access it using the Keepy mobile application or on your very own private Keepy website.
Canvsly was created to help parents and teachers quickly and easily capture, organize, share, and print their children's artwork. In addition, each of your children can have their profile, allowing you to preserve and store their artwork individually. You can also share photographs in various ways and make your child's artwork into fun souvenirs like posters or coffee mugs.
Artkive is another convenient way to save, share your children's artwork, and clear the clutter. Like Canvsly, this application can later make your children’s artworks into a book or other giftable things such as pillows, mugs, puzzles, phone cases.
Artkive also offers a Concierge package, which includes professionally digital art bound in a hardback portfolio.
Memorbilia like school papers and your kid's artwork can be tough to declutter and organize, especially when there are memories and keepsakes involved. However, when the clutter accumulates, we're left feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and even frustrated by the stacks of paperwork that kids come home with.
Putting in place a good intake system for kids school and artwork will help you avoid the clutter, save time, and avoid exhaustion in the future. In addition, you'll teach kids how to organize and declutter as an added bonus.
I hope I've provided you some easy and painless tips for organizing, trashing, and cherishing your kids school and art work at home with an intake system.
If you loved this post on organizing your kids school work, I have a few more organization tips that you will absolutely love.