end of school year

How to Organize Important Documents, Part 5

end of school yearWelcome to Part V of How to Organize Important Documents. You can read Part I here ,  Part II herePart III here and Part IV here.

It’s the end of another school year and now that your kids have cleaned out their desks and brought it all home, you have a mountain of old schoolwork to deal with. Even if you only have one child, 13 year’s worth of art projects, essays and report cards could easily take over your home.  So how do you preserve a record of their accomplishments and still keep some living space?

My solution was to purchase a Rubbermaid Roughneck Tote (14- or 18-gallon size) for each of my children as they started school. Whenever they bring something home from school that they want to keep it goes in the bin.  If it doesn’t fit in the bin, it doesn’t get kept. We can photograph it and put a picture of it in if it’s too big—or if it’s something that isn’t preservable (like art projects made out of food). I do keep all semester report cards and significant honors. When school is out for the year, we pull out the boxes and they have the opportunity to sort through their boxes and choose what to keep and what to toss.

And yes, it is ONE box per child for all 13 years of school.  This encourages them as they get older to keep only what they find really significant.

While I do have veto power over anything they want to throw away, I have almost never exercised it in the 20 years I’ve been at this.

I have friends who photograph or scan all their kids’ school papers and projects and then throw away all the originals, but I prefer to keep the real thing. As digital as I am, I do not believe in a paperless history. There is something about holding in your hands an actual piece of your parents’ or grandparents’ history, a sample of their handwriting or a picture they painted. (Remember, I am also the person who believes you should be printing out those photos and not letting them languish on your hard drive). But digitizing their memories is another option and will certainly save you space.

So, what do you do with your children’s treasures of education?  Share your ideas in the comment section below.

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  1. I love the tote idea! I have to tell you that I was so happy mom kept my artwork and special papers. I still look through memories even after all of these years. Thanks, Marie!

  2. We also have a ‘memory box’ that has lovely hanging folders and will be something that is easy to transport when it is time for the wee ones to move on.

  3. We just gave our kids most of their treasures, kept some in a scrapbook for us to go thru ourselves but they can deal with the piles…LOL!
    GREAT post Marie – THANKS for this series!!!

  4. Hi Leslie, I have really come to like your series on organizing our documents. I am like you, I like to hold something in my hands for the memory is so much intenser. Thanks for instructing us in this subject!!!