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Scrap it or scrapbook? Dealing with your child's papers

What to do with all those papers? Here are some hints to help you decide what's worth saving.

Cleaning up and organizing a year's worth of papers can be a cathartic and rewarding activity for you and your child.

How To Sort It Out

Gather all the papers, artwork, tests, and notebooks from the year and spend an afternoon with your child going through them. Make an initial run-through and have her sort it all into "Keep," "Toss," and "Maybe" piles.

Go through the "Maybe" pile together and have her tell you the reasons she wants to keep or toss it. If she wants to toss something you love, explain to her why you want to keep it. You'll learn a lot about what work your child values and why, and she will benefit from hearing praise about pieces that might not have a high grade but you find priceless. Plus, just spending this time recognizing what your child has accomplished will demonstrate that you appreciate and value all she has done.

How to Keep the Keepers

  1. Make a Time Capsule Box. Get a box large enough to store the papers and other memories in one place. Have him pick out programs from school plays, pictures of his classmates, and other reminders of his school year along with artwork and homework. Seal up the box, attach a current picture of him, and label it with that year's grade on the outside.
  2. Store it Like the Pros. Encourage your young artist by giving her a cardboard artist's portfolio to store her masterpieces. Label works with a title, the date created, and her name. Or buy a large scrapbook and mount the work inside.
  3. Put it on Display. Have one or two of the best pictures framed. Or laminate a set of drawings for use as everyday placemats. If he did outstandingly on a paper, story, or test, consider framing that as well and putting it where everyone can see it.
  4. Bind it Up. Get a three-ring binder with clear plastic sleeves to store essays, tests, and homework. You can also store smaller artwork this way. For a simpler option, get subject dividers and a three-hole punch and enter the work by subject, month, or type.
  5. Re-use, Recycle. Artwork that he wants to toss can be re-used as wrapping paper for gifts. Cut colorful art into strips, laminate them, and make bookmarks for relatives. Or give art virtual life - scan and use pictures as wallpaper for your computer or Web page.

Comments from readers

"I like the 3 ring binder idea and having your child help sort thru all of the paperwork. I have been wandering what to do with all of Emily's K5 work. "
"This is a great idea!"
"another idea is to keep all papers and art work together as themes. And any pictures you have taken in the class room such as thanksgiving and christmas, use the pictures to go along with the art work and papers for the them to tell a story of what your child was learning on that occasion. "