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Monday, June 13, 2011

School Bell: End of Year Paper Pile

As the end of the school year arrives, one last task always awaits students before leaving for the summer break.... cleaning out their lockers!  Combined with teacher's cleaning off their desks of last papers, this means an inevitable smorgasbord of paper that comes home scrunched into folders, straining the zippers of backpacks, sometimes spilling into paper bags, and all erupting into a flood somewhere between the front door and the desks or tables in homes all across the country.  Now, unless you too raised 4 or more children at a time, you probably didn't see piles like these, but I'm sure you still saw many more papers than you could possibly want.

Don't Panic!  Don't throw it all away or one of your children is bound to dissolve into anguished wails mourning treasures lost.  Don't keep it all or by the time they are grown and gone, you will be left with ungainly closetfuls of papers and memorabilia per child.  Even if you have never started this system it is not too late! Here is my suggestion:

1. Prepare: Give each child a separate place to put their papers and treasures. Choose a time and make a date/appointment with each child for a time in the next 48 hours when you will have the child show you all of their papers.

2. KEEP your date: When the agreed time comes, sit down with your child [the one who brought the papers home] and tell them that you are excited to see of their papers. Add that you want to make a special way to save the most special papers from this year to keep and remember as they get older.  Together you are going to choose what papers show what school was for them this year.

3. Set the goal: Explain that your child gets to choose up to 10 items or papers and you get to choose up to 10 items or papers. [Remember to choose papers that represent all the year, not just the very best of the year... maybe something from the early part and something from the end of the year.]

4. Go through the pile:  Ooh and aahh, celebrate progess, achievements.  Emphasize that effort and progress are the key, not perfection. Enjoy the time with the child focusing on them and building both bonds and enthusiasm about their year.

5. Label everything: If you don't get to 20 total, great. Whatever you end up with, be sure that each paper is labeled with the child's name and [if not a full date] at least the school year.

6. Make the folder: Get a fresh manilla folder and on the outside of the folder put: the child's name, grade level, the child's teacher/s that year, and the name and address of the child's school. If you have a photo of the child from that school year add it to the outside of the folder.

7. Start the collection: Put the chosen papers in the folder for this school year and file in a secure place. Repeat with each child, and repeat each year. [Don't forget to throw out the rest of the papers.!]

On Thursday's blog I will share a few simple ideas to make these folders even more treasured keepsakes for years to come.

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