Organizing Tip: Sorting School Papers

Macaroni Ideas

By Kyrie Collins, Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock Publisher October 11, 2012
Now that my boys have been in school for more than a week, they have already started bringing home schoolwork, drawings, and other miscellaneous items. I am a bit sentimental ~ a mushy-mush, as one friend calls me ~ so I want to keep some of their best work to help me remember when they are grown what they were like when they were young. They (or their future spouses) may want to look through it for their own nostalgic reasons too. But we certainly don't have room to keep every assignment they bring home, and it's hard to tell at the beginning of the year what it going to be truly impressive, original, or special.

My simple solution is that I don't sort it as we go through the year but only once at the very end. I keep two stacking boxes on my kitchen counter, one for each child. Each time a school assignment comes home for me to see, I look at it, show it to my husband, then drop it in the box and forget about it. At the end of the year, I sort through all of it and keep only about 20% of what we've accumulated. It takes about an hour for me to go through all the papers for both boys and determine what to keep and what to toss into our recycling bin. The kept papers must meet certain criteria:
  • Cuteness - One of my sons drew a picture of the sun and wrote. "This is the sun. It is like my mom." I'm not really sure what that means, but I've decided it means I light up his world. Awwwww!
  • Pride - Notes praising my children or schoolwork with messages from the teacher raving about their answers pass my muster.
  • Nostalgia - Many teachers start Monday by having their students write about their weekend. Not only does it remind me of what we did throughout the year but it also tells me what my boys really value. Anything that covers a page front and back was certainly noteworthy.
  • Creativity - Extraordinary drawings or interesting spellings qualify. When asked how plants make food, my son wrote, "Photo cinfisis." Yup, I kept it.
  • Oprah - OK, so Oprah doesn't have a talk show anymore but someone will. If my son becomes a famous author, the storybook he made titled "Rattlesnake vs. Python" will have the entire audience giggling.
The final step is to put the paper into storage. Each child also has a file box with 14 hanging folders (Pre-K through 12th grade). The keepsakes go into its proper folder and I have all their best work to peruse at my leisure. Voila!