I don’t know about you, but my two eldest children finished school this week, and they brought home a huge amount of paperwork. We have notebooks, logs, spelling lists, and pages and pages of colouring. And that’s for both my school-aged children. Just. Lots. Of. Paperwork. Not to mention that they also make beautiful creations at home, so bringing stuff home from school is only adding to an already-huge pile. Thankfully we have now come up with a bit of a system for all this. It’s something that’s taken a bit of trial and error to come up with, but it works for us at the moment. I know that a lot of other parents struggle with this, so I’ve been asked to share our (simple) solution. How do you keep your children’s artwork organised?
Here’s how we do it.
1. Give each child their own space
Each of my children has a tray where they keep all their artwork. When they’ve finished with a piece of drawing, it goes in their tray. A little construction made a school with recycled items and sellotape? It goes in the tray. I empty the trays in September, just before the beginning of a new school year. So from September to August in each given year, anything they create at home or bring back from school will go straight into their trays. When I empty the trays, I’ll bundle everything up, label them with the name of the child and the school year, and I’ll put them in a big drawer (out of sight).
2. Sifting through the bundles
Let’s face it, especially when your children are young (say from age 3 to about 7), they go through a lot of paper! And that’s lovely, but when they’re very young, you get a lot of lines. And dots, circles, and scribbles. They also go through phases – when it’s cars, for example, all you get every day are several drawings of cars. The same car. Or different attempts to perfection the car-drawing process.
What do you do – do you keep them all?
I’ll be honest, I don’t.
I never get rid of anything straight away, but when I’m feeling motivated or going through a decluttering phase, I’ll get the various bundles out and start going through them. Just recently in June, while I was busy with the 30-day minimalism game from The Minimalists, I went through all of my eldest son’s work from Year 2 and got rid of 366 A4 sheets. I didn’t count the ones that I kept, but judging from the look of the pile that did survive the first cut, at least another 200 have made it through!
3. Making a scrapbook
When I went through The Big Guy’s Year 1 artwork I got a 72-page scrapbook from WHSmith. So 72 is my magic number – I can keep 72 pieces and nothing more. So I clearly need to repeat the process of going through what’s left one more and see what I can part from! But once that’s all done and the items are down to an acceptable number, I glue the sheets I want to keep onto the scrapbook pages.
And that’s all done – as you can see, all his best work from year 1 went from a messy pile in a tray to a lovely, neat scrapbook that we can look through together again and again. I don’t feel guilty for getting rid of some of his work, because by the time I do go through it all, they are no longer attached to their creations (they don’t remember most of them!), and you just can’t keep everything! This way I get to keep the best pieces, and I’m sure that if I didn’t make a nice scrapbook out of them, they’d never ever look at them again.
What about the long-term plan?
Sure, with one scrapbook per child per school year, if I keep this up, I’ll end up with a staggering amount of scrapbooks to keep. 3 children times 8 years of primary school (including nursery school) equals to 24 scrapbooks! Not to count all the workbooks they also bring home from school – let’s say about 5 or more per school year starting from year 1? A bit too much? Yes, definitely.
While they are little, and we have space and a way to keep all this stuff organised, I don’t mind keeping them all. The question as to where they will all go when they grow up or move is another story. Will they be interested in all of this?
I can’t really answer that now. But for now, I’ll stick to my method.
What do you think – could this work for you? How do you keep your children’s artwork organised? Have you got any other tips to share?