Decluttering Children’s School Papers

If you have school age children then you know the end of the school year means cleaning out desks and lockers.  There are piles and piles of papers, notebooks, pencils/pens, art work, etc. that invade the home this time of year.

It’s tempting to throw the backpacks and bags into the closet and forget about them for summer.  The children would rather head out to the pool or play with friends then deal with school stuff.  But now is a good time to declutter the papers so you don’t have to deal with them right before the next school year starts.

Make sure you go through the papers with your children so they can learn how to let go of them.  Many of the younger grade school children feel every paper is important to keep.  This is a good time to teach them the difference.

Sometimes you may find they don’t think anything is important but you do.  Don’t force them to keep anything.  If you want to keep something then put it in a separate pile and tell them you are keeping it for yourself. As parents we can be more sentimental than our children.

Here are several ways to decide what to keep and what to get rid of.

  1. Is the paper a creative work such as a story or drawing?  These could be saved to measure the progress your child makes over the years. They may inspire your child to be more creative as they get older.
  2. Is the paper a special report with a great grade?  You only want to keep the positive papers.  Sometimes a child has a bad year and loses confidence. You can bring out the paper to prove they are capable.  After a year or two these papers will lose their significance and can then be decluttered.
  3. Routine test and worksheets need to be thrown away or recycled if possible. These papers only take up room and have little meaning when looked at again.

Once you go through all the papers you then have to decide what to do with the treasures you keep. Here are some ideas.

  1. If you have a lot of art work, especially from younger children, you can create a collage on a bulletin board hung up in their room. Store the extra art work in a plastic container in the closet or under the bed. Rotate the artwork once a month or so. At that time you may be able to declutter some more of it.
  2. Create a simple scrapbook for each year or continue one from a previous year. If a piece of artwork is too large then take a picture of it and put the picture in the scrapbook.  This works well for younger children.  You can store the original in a box under the bed if you want to keep it. Eventually you and/or your child should be able to let go of the original. Drawings or other art work from older children can be framed and hung up.
  3. The stories and other written creative works can be put in a three ring binder. Label it for the school year(s) the work was done.
  4. If you just want to store the papers in a box then make sure each child has a separate container. Write the date or school year on each paper so you know when it was from.  If the box starts getting full then it is time to pull out the older papers and decide if they are still worth keeping.

As children get older many of the “saved” treasures will seem silly to keep.  After you go through this year’s papers then take a few minutes to go through the previous years treasures.  You and your children should be ready to get rid of a few of these.