If you kids aren’t school-aged, you don’t understand, but there is a DELUGE of paper that comes home with kids EVERY DAY. (Or worse, if there’s a suspicious lack of papers, that means a TIDAL WAVE is coming as soon as your kids teacher discovers he or she has been cramming it all in a sad, sad desk at school.)
This 1 trick will cost you a whopping $0.20 per kid and save you endless frustration when dealing with school paper clutter.
- Buy 2 folders per kid
- Put 1 folder, labeled for the kid, in a place where he/she knows NOT to mess with it. This is Mom’s folder of papers for the year. Special stuff. Sweet stuff. Beautiful artwork. Terrific grades. Awards. (I don’t even use the pockets, just place everything in chronologically.)
- Put 1 folder, labeled for the kid, in a place where he/she HAS ACCESS to it. Bookshelf? Desk? Maybe even next to yours. This folder is for your kid to put papers he/she wants to keep. They are special to him. (Even if they are only partially colored.) When this folder is full, have her CLEAN IT OUT. What papers do you not care about anymore? Keep what’s important. Make room for other stuff.
How this conversation goes on a daily basis as we process their folders:
Me: Ok, here’s your stack. Either put it in your folder or the trash.
(Kid sorts through stack)
Kid: Where’s [beautiful artwork or worksheet with amazing grade]?
Me: I put it in my folder of special things
(Kid beams ecstatically with pride)
Obvious teaching points:
- There are things to be proud of keep for special reasons. Let’s celebrate those!
- We aren’t going to keep everything. We don’t need to and it’s impractical to manage.
- It’s good to purge periodically. For everyone of all ages. Period.
- We can work in a system with finite space. Let’s figure out how to accomplish a goal within a given set of parameters.
- We aren’t going to have HUGE amounts of paper floating through the house. Because that’s awful! (And my kids tend to start shredding paper if they’re left alone with it for any length of time!)
When trying to figure out this dilemma, I found a post that talked about keeping everything in a paper box and going through it all at the end of the year. That is SO MUCH SPACE. A box. Holy cow, I have too many kids for that! And talk about an excruciating chore to have at the end of the year when you’re sick of everything school-related! No, thanks. I have to go through the papers right away anyway in case there’s an urgent reminder from school (which happens frequently), so let’s toss the trash, save the precious and impressive in Mom’s folder, and let kiddo keep her 37th math worksheet in hers until she’s ready to toss it in 2 months.