Organization Hack: School Work

Today’s organization post if for all of the mamas out there with school age children. What do you do with all of the work that your kids bring home on a daily basis? Do you keep it or do you throw it all away? I know when my oldest started preschool, I wanted to keep it all.  It was all just so cute and it was hard throwing it away. I wanted to save all of the cute crafts, the papers where she was learning to write, and basically everything else. I mean look at that adorableness above! How could I get rid of that? Unfortunately, it started to pile up quick.  I finally realized that I had to let some of it go.  There was no room to keep all of it.  Let’s be real, what was I going to do with it all anyway? Hang onto it for years and then what? I decided that I needed some kind of system because there was no way that I was going to get rid of all of it, but I knew that I had to scale it back significantly.  I started going through it all piece by piece and sorting it into definite keep, maybe keep, and discard piles.  I decided to keep one paper where she was learning to write her name, things with her handprint on them, and a couple of art pieces.  The rest ended up in the discard pile.  It was hard throwing any of it away from those early years, but it really needed to be done. Now that I had a small pile of things to keep, what was I going to do with them? I knew that there would be things from each school year that I would want to keep, so I needed some sort of system and storage solution.  I started out with a plastic file crate (Target) and those green hanging files (Target).  I set up one for each year of school from preschool to 12thgrade. That worked well for a while, but then my youngest started school, and I now had 2 crates. It was hard storing the two crates, and moving with them was difficult too. I was worried it would all get destroyed. I later moved it all into two large file box (Target) with a lid so that I could transport and store them easier. That is the system that I still use 12 years later.

Each year I start a pile of stuff that comes home that I may want to keep.  I will say that as the years have gone on less comes home which is good. The files from elementary school are much larger than the files from middle and high school.  Anyway, at the end of each school year, I go through the piles and decided on a few things that I want to keep and then discard the rest.  You may wonder why I don’t just weed through it as it comes in and why I wait until the end of the year to go through it all.  Well, I personally like looking through it to see where they started the year to where they have come by the end of the year.  I like to see the growth.  Maybe that’s the teacher in me. I don’t know, but I enjoy it.  Once I have gone through it all and decided what to keep, I file it away under the correct year in the box. I still don’t know what I will do with it in the long run, but I really like having some of it to reminisce, and I hope that one day the girls will be thankful that I kept some of it. I actually still have some of the papers that I wrote when I was in high school in a file somewhere. I don’t know why but I kept them, but I did. Again, it could be the teacher in me.

One important thing that I keep in each child’s box is a book by Dr. Suess, Oh, The Places You’ll Go (Amazon).  I keep this in there in a large envelope.  I started this when my youngest was in kindergarten.  At the end of each school year, I send the book to the teacher in the sealed envelope so my kids won’t look at it. Each year, the teachers write a little note in the book to my daughter.  As my oldest has gotten older and has multiple teachers at once, I just pick the teacher that it is her favorite that year and have just that teacher write a note.  My plan is to give them each their book with all their teachers’ notes in it when they graduate from high school. I guess I am just sentimental, but I hope they appreciate it.

In case you are wondering, these are the other things that I like to keep in the files.

  • Report Cards (This comes in very handy whenever we move. I know right where it is whenever I need it.)
  • Progress Reports and Teacher Conference Notes
  • 504 documents for my youngest (It would be great to keep IEP’s here too for those that have them, or really any important documents related to school.)
  • Award Certificates
  • Honor Roll Ribbons
  • Testing Results
  • Art Work (just a few favorites, not all)
  • Pictures (school pictures, class pictures, pictures from field trips, sports pictures from that year, etc.)
  • 2-3 writing pieces (1 from the beginning of the year, 1 from the end of the year, and any cute personal narratives)
  • Any Mother’s Day or Father’s day cards they have made
  • Programs from any performances they had during the year
  • Yearbooks
  • Class Memory Books

Things to discard:

  • Work Sheets
  • Big, bulky Projects
  • Notebooks
  • Work books
  • Tests
  • Research papers
  • Journals (You can pull out a page or two if you would like, but don’t keep the whole thing.)
  • Binders (I don’t typically keep big bulky binders, but the ones you see in the box above are memory books that she created in class and added to throughout the year. They are full of pictures from the year and little writings that she wrote about her experiences during the school year.)

You can get a copy of my file labels here and here.  I printed them on card stock. Then, I just cut them out, folded them in half, and stapled them to the folder.  I have also included a label that you can tape to the front of your box with your child’s name if you would like.

I hope this helps you tame the mounds of papers that come home from school and allows you to have a few pieces for reminiscing. Remember to condense! You don’t need it all.  Just keep the really important and special pieces. Happy organizing!

Anchored and Organized,


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