Thursday, February 21, 2008

"School Stuff"

I hear this phrase over and over when I ask clients what problems they are having with paperwork and things they need a solution for. I have some pretty strong opinions about what to do with that A+ reading comprehension test or 1st hand print or creative drawing or funny story or ladybug mobile or or or or, should I go on? I cherish and love all the things my kids make at school. But I cherish a fresh, clean space just as much! Here are the steps I recommend as things come in the door. Before you can follow these steps, you need 2 things--a display center and a school in box.
1. Sort. Work that you LOVE, display it. What is worthy of keeping (really neat writing on a test you are proud of, interesting grade you want to hold onto, hard math homework that they did well, etc), put it in the school in box.
2. The rest (same old math sheet that's been graded, indifferent art work, repetitive spelling tests, etc.) TOSS! Yes, TOSS. You do not need it. If you have a child with learning issues and do need to hold onto everything for reference, I will address this in a future post--please look for that as I have my own child like this too!
3. Important, if you have more than one child, especially young children, make sure their name is on it and perhaps put a date on it if it is a 'first' or a writing assignment at the start of 1st grade for instance to compare to at the end.
4. As you display, let your child decide what should come down as you put up something new. They must learn limits when it comes to spending or eating or getting enough sleep and they must also learn limits when it comes to 'stuff'. If the wall is full, we can't make the wall bigger, we must make choices!
5. If something needs to come off the display, either toss it or put it in the school in box.
6. Summer requirement--at the end of the year, sort each child's work into their own stacks. Then sort each stack into categories that are important to you or your child--art, tests where you want to acknowledge grades, writing if you are documenting their progress, etc. Now, get out your scanner or head to kinkos where you can use a color copier. Scanning--print them 4x6 or upload them to a site like and order prints. Copying--copy them smaller so they end up the size of a photo--4x6 or 5x7. Now toss that important work. The paper, pen ink, pencil marks, cheap glue and even cheaper paint are NOT archival so if you feel you are doing the most loving thing by holding onto the originals, realize that what you have in 20 years will be a mess (paper will yellow, paints will chip off, pencil marks will smear, etc.) and those photo prints will still look fresh and clean and perfectly capture the real work they created.
7. Scrapbook or archive. I have one album for each child that is just for school. Each year gets around 10 pages and is done in the summer. I have an order to how I set up each year and the last 4 pages have the art work with a pocket page on the last page for extra work I couldn't fit in.
Rules--never let a year overlap with the other. Summer's requirement is essential to make this work.

Okay, this was a long post and a LOT to do but once you get it sorted and set up, I promise it is an easy system!!!!

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