It starts in preschool. Every day your child comes home with new treasures. The papers, the artwork, the pages with scribbles that later start looking like letters. It can be overwhelming.
And while I know some parents who keep everything that just isn’t me. There is no way I could store all that stuff – Popsicle towers, odd shapes they cut out, string art, watercolors and rubbings of leaves. It is just too many things to be saved.
My solution was to buy a 3-ring binder to hold the items I choose to keep. I buy a 2-inch wide binder and can typically get two years’ worth of stuff inside it.
Currently, Jase has four binders: 1 with preschool (3 year old, 4 year old and gift of time, 1 with kindergarten and first grade, 1 with second and third grade and I have stared a 1-inch binder for fourth and fifth grade. (He just completed fourth grade.) The reason I went for 1-inch binder for the fourth/fifth grades is that they bring home a lot less artwork or paperwork that I feel like keeping.
Lexie has three binders: 1 with preschool (3 year old and 4 year old), 1 with kindergarten and first grade and the last has second grade and will have her third-grade stuff from the next school year.
Each binder starts with a front cover listing the school name, and the grades contained with the school year dates.
Lexie’s Elementary School
Encino Park Elementary
Each grade starts off with a cover page listing the grade, school name, school year dates and the teacher’s name. Underneath is a picture of the child taken sometime during that school year.
Now everything in the binder is in sheet protectors. I did have to cut down some artwork to make them fit. If there was something I wanted to save that was too big for the binder, it is just kept on the shelf next to the binders. I am sure I will have to put these in a box at some point.
After the cover page, I include their last report card for that grade and their class photo. I try to get them to help me label the back with the kids’ names because you know we will forget them as time goes on.
The next pages are filled with artwork that they completed during the year (in chronological order). I sometimes include photos of events at their school. Any notes from the teacher or parent-teacher conference forms are also included as well as their birthday invitations and whatever they made for me in class for Mother’s Day. Any sport awards, photos and certificates are also included. And I sometimes throw in a homework assignment, just so we can see the progression of work – or at least handwriting.
Now because I am selecting just my favorite pieces does not mean I am just throwing away everything else. If it is just a homework sheet or a scribble, I do recycle those pages. But for others, I simply lay the items on the floor and take a picture of them. Yes, I could scan them but the picture collage takes up less room. I then file these photos in their photo folders on my computer under the appropriate age. So Lexie’s kindergarten art is in a folder called Kinder art in her 5-year-old folder on the computer.
Overall, I have been pleased with this method of storing their artwork, certificates and school papers. The biggest challenge is not letting the piles get too high before I weed through them and make my decisions on what to keep and what to recycle. Now that summer is here, I am working on finishing their second and fourth-grade binders. My goal is not to put it off and get everything filed by the end of this week. And then the piles will begin forming again in August.