It seems everyone I know is trying to de-clutter their homes, including me. And for those of us with school-age children, a lot of our clutter comes directly from our kids’ backpacks. From spelling tests to art projects, if we kept it all, we soon wouldn’t be able to find our children amongst the towering stacks of paper.
With the end of the school year upon us, you might be deluged as the teachers send home everything left in the classroom. Or, if you are like me, you still have papers sitting around from the beginning of the school year. Here are a few tips to help you deal with it.
• Sort. Most organization experts say to sort first. If possible, go through your child’s papers every day. I’ve found a lot can go straight to the recycle bin. For important papers, have a system, such as a folder or manila envelope marked with the child’s name. Keep it there until it is no longer needed. For those special papers you want to keep or display, have a place for those, as well.
• Display. I’ve seen this done in many creative ways. There is, of course, the refrigerator gallery. A bulletin or magnetic board in the family room or child’s room is another great idea. I use small suction cups with hooks to display artwork on our slider and window. I either punch a small hole to hang the piece on the hook, or tape it to the hook.
Make placemats by putting the art between pieces of clear shelf paper, or buy inexpensive frames to hang on a wall to display your young Monet’s work.
With all these systems, rotate frequently. When something new comes in, an old one must go – either to the folder of artwork waiting to be preserved or the recycle bin.
• Preserve. There will be some you or your child will want to keep. As much as we would love to, we can’t save every scribble. Have the kids help you choose the most special to preserve, and if a lot are left over, grandparents are usually thrilled to receive a few. Our children’s grandparents live out of the state, and every year my kids choose a few examples of their school and art work to mail to them. The grandparents enjoy seeing the child’s progress and look forward to their packages.
There are many relatively easy ways to preserve art and schoolwork. A few ideas:
• Scrapbook it. The scrapbooking craze has caught on, and as a result, one can pick up an inexpensive scrapbook almost anywhere these days. A couple of ways to scrapbook your child’s work: Take photographs of the artwork. Photos are definitely the way to go with 3-D art, but work great for papers, as well. This shrinks the art piece to a 4×6 photograph which can then be put on a scrapbook page. This way, several will fit on each page. Write the child’s name and age/grade at the top and you are done.
If scrapbooking isn’t your thing, then the photos can be put into a photo album. Making color copies of the work is another method. Shrink it to whatever size you like. Using acid-free paper (available where scrapbook supplies are sold) to make the copies will help it last even longer. By photographing or copying your child’s projects, you will have a lasting piece of art without the random loose piece falling off or the construction paper turning yellow.
• Scan it. You can scan your child’s projects and then save on a disk, e-mail to friends and relatives or create unique screensavers.
• Laminate it. Laminating a few favorite pieces can be an easy way to keep it from falling apart with time. You can also punch holes along the side to place in a binder.
• Make a coffee table book. A three-ring binder with top-loading page protectors can be filled with art and schoolwork and left out on the coffee table for the kids and guests to enjoy.
No matter how you choose to display and preserve their work, your kids will be thrilled. Not only do they love to see their art displayed, it helps them to develop confidence, as well.
Debi Pitts, preschool director/lead teacher for Peace Lutheran Preschool in Covington, said, “When children create artwork, they are mimicking the adults and older siblings in their lives. Children can feel frustrated that they aren’t able to do art on the same level as family members. By displaying and preserving children’s artwork, we can validate the work they are doing at their own developmental level. It makes them feel important and like a valuable member of the family.”
Tiffany Doerr Guerzon lives in Maple Valley. She can be reached at email@example.com