This paper quickly accumulates on counters, tables and any horizontal surface.
You need to have a plan for how to deal with this paper or you will be buried!
If you are a parent of a child in elementary school, we suggest that you have a central spot where children put papers that you need to see or act upon. A decorative basket or a plastic sorting bin on the kitchen counter (or somewhere in prime real estate) is an ideal option.
Train children to empty their backpacks and put lunch dishes in the sink or dishwasher and papers in the basket. The papers that get put into this basket are the priority things that you need to read or sign.
Start helping children to learn the different categories of paper that they accumulate. Designate an easily accessible place to put completed papers & artwork that come home from school on a daily basis. Everything needs a home!
Perhaps this is a basket in the corner or a labeled bin (with or without a lid) that can slide under the couch or coffee table or into the closet. This spot isn’t intended for the long-term home. It is meant to be a middle step that allows you to keep clutter to a minimum and get paper tucked away quickly.
Teach your child to prioritize and recycle items themselves. This is lifeskill that we need to teach our children from little on up.
A coloured letter “A” or a math worksheet don’t need to be kept. However journals, special artwork and stories may be on the to keep list.
Go through the bin and weed-out every week or two.
Things to be kept get put in a memento bin that is labeled with each family member’s name. Bedroom closets or storage rooms are a good place for storing these bins. We suggest a file box set-up with hanging files labelled for each grade.
It is a life skill to teach our children that we can’t keep everything.
As the bin gets fuller work with your child to go back and edit the quantities. Evaluation & prioritizing are 2 valuable life skills that you need to teach your children.
As the parent, you decide on the number of pieces that it is appropriate to keep – lay them out and have your child choose their favourites. You can choose some too!
A great option is to take photographs of larger items and include the photos in the memory box or create a photo book of kids’ artwork.
This is an ongoing process. When you put things in the Grade 1 file, it all is near and dear to both you and your child. If that file needs to be downsized a year or 2 later, it is amazing how a little time and distance makes the editing much easier!
About the time your children are learning to read, it is an appropriate time to start teaching them about filing on a basic level. A plastic file box and some brightly coloured hanging files and tabs are a great way to start.
A “beginning” filing system might include:
- poetry and stories
- assorted paper
- greeting cards received
- photos and fun stuff
- blank greeting cards
- birthdays and other events
The basic principles of organizing apply not just to the adults in the house but to children as well.
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