By ERIN TURNER
School is out! Dreams of lazy summer days, relaxing mornings on the sunny porch, kids splashing in the pool, camping trips in the great Montana outdoors, late night games of kick-the-can with neighborhood kids are all looming in my head right now.
But first, I have to deal with mountains of school paperwork, art projects, poem books, and more paperwork!
As each of the boys came home this week, they were weighted down with backpacks full of a year of papers! You know this because you have the same mountain sitting on your kitchen table, right??! It is overwhelming and the question is, what do you do with all of it?
The first instinct is to get rid of it.
But upon further inspection, I find sweet poems from my seven year old about how much he loves his family. As I dig further, I find a spelling test for which my middle son studied so hard and earned a well deserved 100%. I also discovered my oldest son’s chapter book he wrote about himself this year.
Yeah, these aren’t going in the trash. These are important pieces of their life and help tell the story of who they are at this age. These are the pieces of their history they will enjoy as adults!
Since my oldest son started school, I’ve been storing all these special papers and projects in a dresser. I have a three-drawer dresser in our office so each boy has a drawer that all their paperwork is stored in.
It works okay… at least it gets the stuff sorted by child and it is out of the way. But now that my oldest just finished sixth grade, the drawers are getting pretty full. Plus, there isn’t any order to their paperwork.
This winter I stumbled upon a Pinterest project which got me very excited about organizing their papers. Now, the key to success in this project is to glean through the papers and only keep the ones which really mean something to you and/or your child.
Sometimes this can be a little difficult but pick a day when you aren’t emotional and you are ready for some cleaning out and organizing!
I started my “Mission Impossible” the first week of April. I spent a better part of a Sunday cleaning out the boys’ paperwork drawers. I whittled their piles down to a manageable size.
You really don’t need to keep every math homework page, spelling test, etcetera, etcetera. One tip I read years ago suggested that parents ask their kids each week which paper they want to keep from that particular week. Then at the end of the month, they have them pick which week’s paper they want to keep. This way at the end of the school year, you only have nine papers to store.
It’s a nice concept, but honestly I’m too nostalgic and haven’t been able to throw away some of the precious projects or papers my boys’ bring home.
So if you are interested in joining me in gaining control of the mountains of school paperwork, here’s what you will need for each child:
- 1 plastic hanging file box ($14.99)
- 14 hanging file folders (one for each grade–$12.49 per box 25)
- 14 2 ½ X 4” labels ($12.49 per box 150)
- A school picture of your child from each grade level
I bought all my supplies at Staples using my Staples rewards, of course!
Here are the steps to getting kids’ art work and school projects organized:
- As I sorted, I put the papers into piles according to their grade level. So, at the end I had a pile for preschool, kindergarten, first grade, and so on for each boy.
- Then, I took those piles which had been whittled down and sorted and placed them into hanging file folders which then I labeled with the year, the grade, the teacher’s name, and also placed a school picture from that grade on the outside of the folder.
- Lastly, I hung the file folders in a plastic file box.
Wow! The papers were now organized and in a user-friendly box which will stack nicely on top of each other, plus, I just freed up an entire dresser!
You can write the info on the label or you can use your printer like I did and print off formatted labels. I found a link at the bottom of the Pinterest blog to print the formatted label. Regardless of how you do it, be sure to label each file so you and your child know what year each file contains.
So, this week I’ll be sorting through the mountains of paperwork on my kitchen table and then happily filing away these precious moments of the boy’s past school year so they can enjoy them for years to come.
Another bonus? I figure my future daughters-in-law will appreciate having neat, organized, and easy to store boxes of their husband’s schoolwork instead of inheriting mountains for cluttery papers!
Erin’s got tons of tips for saving money, couponing, and sticking to a budget in her previous posts: Frugal Living: 25 Money-Saving Uses for the Humble Coffee Filter, Frugal Living: Grow Your Own Food and Save Money, and A Pinterest Project: DIY Spice Jars. Be sure to check out the Missoula Save it Club.
Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian. Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped, and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques, and trying to maintain a well-run, happy, and organized home for her family.