I’m excited to share a recent article written by Professional Organizer Gretchen Fatouros who is the founder of From Clutter to WOW!
Gretchen helps her clients get motivated and energized in order to move quicker towards their goals!
In August of 2000, she retired from a job as an IT (Information Technology) Engineer at EDS on the Xerox account to be a stay-at-home mom. That’s when she discovered her love of helping people. She became a Creative Memories consultant in March 2003. From there, she decided to be a professional organizer, and went on to launch her business in August 2008.
Read on to become inspired!
The kids have been back to school for a few months. Are the papers beginning to pile up?
Here are some tips and tricks for keeping the best, displaying the most recent, and keeping it organized…
[Tweet “Don’t let the paper win! Keep control of your kid’s paper with these tips. “]
1. Who are you keeping the papers for?
Are they for you and/or your child to look back on? See progress? Enjoy some of their favorite projects? For college entrance later?
I received a number of boxes of school papers from my mother a few years ago. It was fun to look through, BUT it was overwhelming because she just kept too much and didn’t label anything. How many times can you see your name written? Maybe the first time was special, but because my mom didn’t write that down, it didn’t really mean much to me.
So keep this in mind as your child is bringing papers home and you’re planning what to keep. If you’re keeping things for him or her, what will they really like to look at? What do you wish you had? I’m sure that 30 of the same scribble-type drawings isn’t really it. Although, you could keep one to show the progress of your little artist.
Keep favorites and remember to label them on the back so you remember why, and when it was created or brought home. If my mom had written on any of my papers, it would have meant a lot more to me.
2. Will you display the latest artwork and school papers?
When our first son started preschool, we began hanging his creations (including artwork and also schoolwork like math and spelling tests) on the walls.
The trick with displaying art, certificates, and other school work sent home is deciding what and how much to display. If you have a child in school, you’ve probably already realized that paper comes in quickly and piles up even quicker. So, I recommend some rules up-front.
- Which types of work will be displayed?
- How much will be displayed? (i.e. 3 hooks, 2 pieces of art per child, etc.)
- Where will it be displayed? (i.e. living room, child’s room, kitchen, etc.)
I used three 3M clips per child, spaced so each of the papers could be viewed without overlaps. Other ideas include magnets on the refrigerator, thumb-tacks on the wall, bulletin boards, or magnetic or bulletin strips along a wall. I’m sure you could find any number of ideas on the Internet. Use what works best for you, your family, and your home.
I’ve also discovered that this system of hanging up school work only seems to last from preschool through the end of elementary school. Now that both my children are in Middle School, the clips have come down.
Once art is removed from being displayed, have a next location in mind, so you don’t end up with piles of papers.
3. What to keep and how to keep it?
Once the paper comes home, have a location or in-box where your child puts it until you are able to look through it. It should be a temporary location to put the papers until you have time. The optimal word being temporary! If you don’t review the papers that come home daily or at least a few times a week, they will get out-of-control.
Set up a regular time to review papers with your child. Have them help explain what you are looking at. This is a great habit to get into early so as they get older you’ll be aware quickly when bad grades or other important information comes home.
As you review each piece of paper, put it into different piles:
- Return to school – permission slips, homework, etc. should be put where your child will remember to bring it back to school. Create an out-box to put papers before they get into a backpack for school. Their teacher may have asked for a “take home folder” where papers go back and forth to school and you can communicate with your child’s teacher. If you don’t have a system for papers to move back-and-forth, I would encourage you to add a “take home folder” (or call it something else like “communication folder”) to your child’s supplies.
- Toss – you have a “million” of this type of work, it’s nothing special, etc. Add to the recycle bin. If you have small children who aren’t helping you with this, remember to bury the work under other papers to keep from hurting a child’s feelings. Trust me, they won’t remember it otherwise.
- Take a picture – I try to lay out a month’s worth of school work on the floor and take a picture to add to their school album and/or school binder. This can also include a picture of your child with awards they receive. These awards will be in the KEEP pile, too (see below).
I have found that taking a group picture is much easier than taking individual pictures of each piece of art and papers that come home. I tried this the first year of preschool and quickly got overwhelmed, especially as I tried to add pictures to a school album for my son. Instead, how about a collage of just a few of the best pieces?
As your child gets older, you will probably stop taking pictures all together. They bring home piles and piles and so many of them are parts of packets, or things they will need to study later for a final test. In this case, you might want to ask your child to write down (or tell you) what types of things they’re learning in each class. I think this would be fun to look back on. If this doesn’t fit in with why you’re keeping things (see #1 above), then don’t worry about this step.
- Keep – I usually take pictures of this, too, and then write on the back of the paper any important information about WHY I kept this – 1st time wrote name, won an award for this drawing, my child’s favorite, etc…
- Display – again, I would take a picture of this and then put on display for a while. If you want, make a small folder of items to display and rotate them. When you’re done, toss or keep. (see #2 above.)
When you’re done sorting, you should only have your “Keep” pile left. Now to find a way that will work well for you to keep the items you want to save for the future. Please note that there is no one right way to do this. You should figure out what works best for you and use the ideas you like. Sometimes you need to try different ideas until you find the one(s) that works best for you.
Remember to label what you’re keeping so you and your child will remember why it was kept and what makes it special. The more your child helps, the easier it will be to decide what to keep, when you know what’s special about it.
13-pocket Expandable Folder: “Expandable files work great for schoolwork, too. I purchased a 13-pocket expandable folder. Each year’s important papers are kept inside. This includes awards and the end-of-year report card. The best part of being 13 pockets? It will allow me to add every year from Kindergarten to 12th grade.” (Taken from It’s All About the Memories, chapter 8: Memorabilia Examples)
Storage Box or Art Portfolio: They sell large art portfolios which will hold even some of the largest pieces of flat artwork. You could purchase one per child or have one per year. Another idea is a storage box that your child controls. My children each have an under-the-bed storage box with the things they think are most important including hand prints and old casts.
“If you do not like the idea of a storage box under the bed for your children’s work, is there another type of container that you’d prefer? I have a number of parents who use new pizza boxes. They have one for each year of school. They are even fun to decorate with your child. You can include larger projects by taking a picture of them, if you don’t want to fold them.” (Taken from It’s All About the Memories, chapter 8: Memorabilia Examples)
Scrapbook or Photo Album: In an album, add pictures of art, write down friends, favorite classes, signature, and maybe a hand print. A great benefit of scrapbooks is that you can put just about anything flat into it. It is also easier to store a photo of the project, instead of trying to store the actual 40-pound clay pyramid that’s both large and awkward.
Don’t let the paper win! You CAN do it!
So much thanks to Grethen Fatorous, my guest blogger! To contact or work with Grethen directly, you may find her (and her fabulous ideas) at: www.fromcluttertowow.com or get to know Grethen by visiting her on Facebook.
Grethen is a Proud Member of:
- NAPO® – since September 2008
- NAPO in the Schools – trained April 2009 with first classes in December 2010
- Faithful Organizers – since April 2009
- Greece Continuing Education Teacher – since November 2010
- MOMS Club® – since December 2000
…and also the author of two books:
- It’s All About the Memories: Preserving your precious memories for future generations – available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook
- Creating Your Own Action Paper File System: How to create and use your own Action Paper File System to manage piles of incoming paper – Kindle Exclusive (will be coming out in paperback later 2012/ early 2013)