Updated: Dec 17, 2020
Kids bring home a lot of papers all year long — from artwork and worksheets to awards and report cards. Come May or June, depending on when school gets out where you live, the paper and school supplies clutter grows exponentially when lockers and back packs are cleared out.
And while the end of this school year looks very different than previous ones due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it's still important to take the time to address the piles of school "stuff" you most likely have accumulated and declutter + organize it.
Let's take a look at some strategies to tame the paper and supply chaos including parsing it, filing the keepers away and taking inventory and creating a home for the supplies that remain in great shape for next year (or at the very least can be used for home use).
gather all school "stuff" up and sort in one place
A good place to begin when decluttering is to gather everything from the category you are reviewing in one place so you can edit it all together. You can then subdivide into smaller categories (eg. artwork, assignments, school supplies, etc.) and declutter one category at a time. It is important to have a few bags at the ready for recycling and trash.
The time to sort through and make decisions on what school items to keep and what items should be discarded is as soon as possible after school is done for the year. Doing so provides a bit of closure from one year of school to the next. I also encourage you to have the kids participate in the process so they can learn by being actively involved.
create a home for + organize schools supplies
Once you've sorted through all of your school items, it's time to create a home for any that remain. A home is somewhere they would live in your house so you can always find them when you need them. Consider who and how often the supplies need to be used when selecting an appropriate location to store them.
There are many different ways to organize school supplies. The volume of supplies in combination with how often you need to access them determine the best solution for you and your family. You can organize them as shown above in closed containers or pair interlocking bins without lids along with dividing inserts as shown below.
While there is no right or wrong way to organize your school supplies, having a solution without lids is especially helpful for families with younger children. Here are some of Neat Little Nest's favorite organizing containers for school supplies.
create a home for + organize keepsake papers + art
One solution I've used to organize kid's papers and art is by making a keepsake bin. To implement this system, you need a water tight plastic file bin and file folders. Purchase enough file folders for each child for each school year. A bin should last you a few years so I suggest buying a few to have on hand for a complete set that you can stack for preschool-12th grade. If you want to give them some extra flair, you can order a custom label kit and all about me printables from the Neat Little Nest shop.
Then, as the artwork and papers come, you decide what brings you joy and desire to keep versus discard (as we all know we can't keep everything they bring home). What I plan to do when my children are high school seniors is to mail in the contents of the box to a company like ArtKive or PlumPrints that will turn the treasures into a book.
turn yearly treasures into a book
If you are not wanting to hold onto papers for 18 years before you make a book, you can choose to create a photo book every year. The way you would do this is very simple and includes taking a picture of each of the pieces of art or other keepsakes and then creating a photo book from those pictures. A couple of companies that make it easy to create photo books include Chatbooks, Shutterfly and Amazon.
The key to any organizational system working well is consistent upkeep. It is a must to create a regular process where you review and make decisions on each school year's paper trail. By doing so you avoid the creep of it slowly growing to overwhelming proportions.
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