Anyone who has a child in school knows the amount of paper that comes home. Whether it be an art project or an A on a math test, pretty soon, you’re swimming in the stuff. When Nick isn’t looking, I sort through the papers and save the very best … the great test scores, the beautiful pictures, the crafty projects … a lot, but not everything. There’s just no way to save everything – it’s too much! And the one time I got caught throwing something away, I had to carefully explain why. I mean, really, it was a multiple-choice test that he got an A on. Yes, he filled in 5 little circles quite nicely, but I didn’t think we needed to save it. Many exasperated protests later (from him, not me!), he relented and agreed with me.
But now what to do with all the treasures that we do save? For awhile, I was putting them into a “Nick” file in one of my filing cabinets, right there next to the gas bill and other assorted household folders. It was neat and tidy, but by the time year two of school rolled around, the file was bulging. I added another file, but still, something needed to be done to tame the paper beast.
Enter Staples. I bought 2 packages of mailing boxes, sized 15-1/8 x 11-1/8 x 2. They come five to a package and sell for about $8, although I had a coupon. They are the perfect size to house whatever your little one is bringing home from school. So I set Nick up on the floor and gave him the (now three) bulging folders of all his schoolwork … everything since he started pre-school at age 2 through the end of first grade. He sorted all the piles and went through and even decided (gasp!) to throw some things away. I showed him the size of the box and told him whatever didn’t fit in there for that particular year, we weren’t keeping, this way he was a little more shrewd when editing the pile, but I left it completely up to him (you can fit quite a bit). Everything in the folders I thought was worthy of saving, and could fit, but if he didn’t want to save something, all the better.
After he went through everything, he then sorted it by year and filled up the boxes. It’s silly, really, but I love looking at the nice neat stack of boxes. So organized. So easy to look through. So easy to find something. Perfect, perfect, perfect.
We wrote the grade and the year on the side of each box, and then inside each box with the papers and projects, on the very top, we put the report cards and progress reports. He tried to throw away a few handwritten notes from a teacher when he was 3, where she detailed in a rather exhaustive manner how he wouldn’t sit still in class, but I explained to him that when he was older, he might think it was fun to look back on it and read. He wasn’t entirely convinced, but enough so that he took the notes out of the trash and uncrumpled them, adding them to the box.
When he was all done, we sat together and went through all the papers, marveling at how things have changed in such a short amount of time. Big, expansive handwriting has shrunk considerably and is neater, straighter and on the lines. Coloring that was all over the place is now thoughtfully drawn out and clear. His name went from Nicholas on the earlier papers to the much more mature, Nick, thankyouverymuch. I thought it was fun to see the changes from year to year, although he voted a few of the papers “hideous!” – a new favorite word of his.
Mission Organization: Schoolwork, one step at a time.