Your children are free (or almost free) for summer break! Although school is over, the mountain of school-related papers in your home remains.  As the beach beckons, do you wish there was an easy way to calm this chaos once and for all? Do you fear the next school year will be much of the same with an overabundance of artwork that gets damaged and overtakes your counters?

If this resonates with you, you are not alone! As a mom and Professional Organizer, I understand the struggle to keep up with art masterpieces and school papers that seem to multiply overnight. With so many other daily to-dos facing your family, it’s tough to manage all that is coming in. The good news is that the start of the summer is the best time to set up a system that will set you and your children up for success next year.

In this blog, I will help you think through and design a simple plan for processing your kids’ papers and artwork and share favorite, go-to resources for storing papers throughout the future school year.

The Process

Where to begin? I recommend you start your organization plan with the most recent school year and artwork associated. This is the first step towards designing an organization plan that will work year after year.

  1. Gather all art and school papers in one location: Go through the house and gather all the artwork and schoolwork from the most recent school year.  Be sure to check backpacks, desk drawers, kitchen cabinets, refrigerator doors, bulletin boards, and anywhere else in your home where your children’s papers may be hiding.  Bring all of these papers to a space where you can spread them out, like a dining room table or the living room floor.
  2. Sort the papers into piles by child: If you have more than one child, you will need to separate the papers by child.  Sometimes this can be tricky especially if your kids are close in age.  If needed, ask them for help!
  3. Keep what’s special: Now just take one child’s work at a time and look through what you’ve collected.  Keep only what is truly special or unique.  Think of yourself or your children looking through these items 10 or 20 years from now.  Will you be interested in what you decided to keep?  A completed math worksheet likely won’t be cherished forever, however, a self-portrait or essay about the most important person in your child’s life would likely be really interesting to see in the future.
  4. Label what’s left: After going through all of your children’s artwork and recycling what you no longer want, it’s a good idea to label what’s left with your child’s name, age and/or grade.  You may find it easier to print a sheet of customizable labels (such as Avery) that has the information you need on it already.
  5. Determine Storage Needs: Now that you have a pile of school papers and artwork for your child (or children) you need to figure out how you would like to store it.  The first question you should ask yourself is “Do I want to keep the artwork in its current physical form or would I like it photographed or scanned so it’s digital?”.  This question will help you narrow down your storage options.  Here are my recommendations:
      • Physical Storage Options
        • Plastic labeled bins
        • Decorative archival storage boxes
        • A file box or filing cabinet
        • Binders with page protectors
        • Art portfolios
      • Digital Storage Options
        • Artkive: Fill the Artkive box with your kids’ art and send it to the company.  They will professionally photograph it and turn it into a keepsake book.
        • Keepy: An app that allows you to digitally save and share your child’s artwork so it is organized, safe and backed up.
        • Scan/Photograph and Save: Scan or photograph your child’s masterpieces and save to a cloud service such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, etc.

Setting up the System for Next Year 

So, now that all the hard work is done you can relax and enjoy the summer knowing that your children’s artwork is safe, organized and better yet, not cluttering your home!  All you need to do now is to duplicate your system going forward for the next school year.  If you’ve decided to store your kid’s school papers in a physical system, just make sure to purchase the extra supplies needed for each child and set everything up now for the next school year.  If you are saving your child’s art & schoolwork digitally, be sure to determine where you will collect the papers as they come in and how you will keep up with your new system.

If you feel overwhelmed by reading this or still don’t know where to start, feel free to e-mail me at dawn@dgorganizing.com or call at (267) 970-0769 and I can help!