questionswhat do you do with your child's schoolwork?

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No kids myself yet (go me!) but my mother still has a big box of things mostly from preschool and kindergarten that she has kept as keepsakes to give to me once I am a little older (I am 25 now and she did this for all 4 of us). I stumbled across this container a year or two ago and had some awesome laughs and memories. I remember making everyone of those little crafts and paintings :). Keep the important stuff! I am sure you wont save many things of your kids after about 1st grade (in my case aside from report cards which are embarrassingly documented). The total amounts to 1 medium sized Rubbermaid container definitely worth the space it takes.

vote-for9vote-against

I have a plastic bin that it about as big as a cooler. My daughter is allowed to put stuff in it that she wants me to keep, but she has to take something else out. I have had this box for 17 years, and carted it all over Texas. It is full, but the lid goes on and stays on. My daughter is 18 now. We just put her diploma, cap and gown, and her Drill Team Officers baton in it, and sealed it with duck tape.

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Keep everything. In a few years, go through it, and you'll discover that most of it has turned into recycle candidates, and some of it is still precious. For anything you're not sure of, save it. You'd be amazed which items are the ones you want to keep as your child gets older.

Things I have in my cedar chest include the little hand print I made in plaster of Paris, when I was in nursery school, and a matching hand print from my daughter at around the same age.

I have a box with most of the "special" items that my daughter did, heavily weighted towards the first years of school. Some things from there have gone into the cedar chest, but most just live in a box. I haven't looked at them in many years, but I'll bet I still couldn't throw them out.

{I'd dump the newsletters and other items you named, though. Perhaps just keep a couple of them.}

vote-for9vote-against

I don't have kids myself but I have friends who scan artwork and other projects as they come home (or as there is time). All physical work is kept for the duration of the school year and then sorted through to decide what to actually keep and what to throw away. Because there are scans of everything, it's a little easier to cull through and throw away many things.
I also like the idea of limiting the amount of stuff stored to just one box. That would help to keep a limit to the amount which is stored and require you to go through stuff and prioritize what to keep as the years go on.

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Feed it to the dog? Seriously though, you don't need to and can't keep all that stuff unless you want your teenager calling in that hoarding TV show for an intervention.

Bulletins and random crap that the school sends home--chuck them. Really inventive stuff you're kid does, the kind of stuff that will disappear a bit when they get older, the spelling that is so inventive and is so very wrong, and yet makes so much more sense then the real spelling, keep things like that. Keep great drawings--not every scribble, and don't sort through just for quality, but for the great stories. Look for what makes you smile, laugh, be amazed--what breaks your heart a little.

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You're may not be able to do this all right now, though do what you can. Then, wait a few year, and go back, weed stuff out. You'll be better then at knowing just what you'll want to keep forever. What you'll want to show him again. You'll still have trouble parting with stuff, but the older he gets, the easier it will be to learn what to throw away then, and it will be easier to go back into the boxes and say "there's nothing special about this piece of paper". Eventually, the older stuff you'll put in albums and preserve and at a certain point you'll do it as new things come in. The thing is, the older he gets, the more you'll stop seeing his thoughts spill out on paper and the more you'll see tailored, copyedited things. The older they are, the less of a window you get. So if you can't throw away things now and it takes some years and a few boxes, that's ok. You will be able to go back and see what things are real windows and what things are just cute.

vote-for7vote-against

But make sure you keep things in good condition and properly stored and labeled. You wouldn't want to lose everything because you couldn't figure out what to keep, and as he gets older, you won't remember if something was done in kindergarten or first grade or second and you'll want to. You'll want to be able to tell him how old he was when he did something, what class he was in, what else he was doing at the time, bring out pictures. You'll want a picture in your mind of him to go with what you're looking at.
It gets more overwhelming as they get older, especially if you have more then one, so if you do have to put things in boxes and sort them later, it's better then losing them or mixing them up. More cluttered, but far better then the loss.

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We saved a snippet here and there, but sadly most of the early stuff is gone due to a total fire loss. :(

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I have 4 kids and my rule when they were younger was that school work would not be saved unless it was mostly drawn, written, or created by them (no fill in the blank stuff unless it was really funny or cute answers), no worksheets, no art projects that were crafted with food or other items that would deteriorate and become a mess. Report cards, awards, and ribbons also were put in the bin, along with sports memorabilia. Every once in a while, we would go through the bin together and see if anything became less precious. Newsletters and such were only saved if the child was mentioned for some reason.

We do have a big bin per child and I am hoping that some day they will all want to move them to their own homes!

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We have a binder with slip in pockets that we save special papers in, be it tests, pictures, or drawings. At the start of each school year, I buy a new binder for that year. For newsletters and other misc. papers that she brings home, I only save it if she is mentioned in it somehow (alone or by class).

If she gets a special certificate that she is especially proud of, we get a cheap frame for her to display it in. I have also done this with her artwork for daddy to display on his desk at work.

Oversize and oddly shaped art/science projects go in a box that slides away for storage. Be sure to note when things were made and who the teacher was. I have done this by just jotting it on an index card to attach to the outside of the box.

I have a sentimental child, so she likes to save mementos from everything. We have started a scrapbook where she can keep ticket stubs, pressed coins, etc. with little memos about the day or event.

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I agree with @anoted about waiting to weed it out. Also, consider scrapbooking what you do decide to keep, Then you can put the stuff in some sort of order that will make sense years down the road, and maybe get your child to help glue things in, choose paper, etc.

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Ha! I can answer this one! We just went through this. What you think is precious, they'll go WTF? over in a few years. When my boys were in elementary school, they put on a play - the Purple People Eater from Space. They were so excited.

We were cleaning out the attic and had lots of bins on the garage floor. I opened box after box - oooing and awwing. My son, now 27 walks up, sees that silver spray painted block of styrofoam with big purple ears, silver antenna and googly eyes and says - What the hell did you save all that old crap for. They forget that THEY wanted to save it. We sat there and tossed out all he thought was crap. Hey, I thought it was cool to save school newsletters and lunch menus. He didn't.

What we saved - his best art work, papers with special teacher comments, memorabilia from school trips, first day of school class schedules, those certificates that they get, and his sports related crud. Now he has a tidy memory box.

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Toss it. As an adult I know that I have no nostalgic yearnings to look back on my first spelling test from second grade, or any of the stacks upon stacks of dittos assigned in the years prior or following. Having a bin of school papers is silly, to me, and seems to buy into all the mommy (and daddy) guilt that we don't love them enough if a record of every poop, sneeze, ditto, or fingernail clipping isn't saved in perpetuity.

That said, I do save some things. Mostly art-related, or writing that has allowed my child a creative license in the content. If art is too large or fragile to last, we take a picture. Bobby Flay has been with us since kindergarten. He is a paper lunch bag puppet of a red Chinese dragon. If we'd gotten stacks of them back over the course of a year, he wouldn't have made the cut, but as an original with a funny name, the dragon's a keeper.

vote-for2vote-against

It's already been said, but the easiest way to decide is to save it for 1 year. At the end of the year (or beginning of the next) go through it and if you are like... what in the world... then throw it away. But, if you are still like awe... that's so cute! Keep it. More than likely, the "what in the world" pile will vastly overpower the "awe... that's so cute" pile. I've done that for a couple of years now and I have a stack that's about .5-1in thick, which is more than acceptable to me. For sure, do not just throw everything away. I almost did that, and now I'm so glad that I didn't. Now, my mom saved EVERYTHING for 13 years. When I moved out, we went through it all. 99% of stuff, neither one of us cared about so it got thrown out. BUT, for that 1%... it was great to go through, made us laugh, and made me realize I was a genius at 6 yrs old. haha. not really. But it did crack me up because I would still answer those journal questions the same way now as an adult.

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@pyxientx: I have some reservations about letting your child decide what they want to keep and what they want to throw away. You'll want to work out some system for things your son wants to keep, that he's in charge of--what's kept, what's thrown away, what he loses. He'll have to learn limits and choices and loss. It'll suck for you.

But don't stop your own saving just because he is old enough to put things in and out of boxes. Maybe when your son is grown he won't have a sentimental attachment to physical things. Maybe he'll want to look though things as he grows up. Maybe he'll only look back with his child. You don't know what kind of person he'll be or what he'll want, so you're saving for him as much as you are for you. Try to remember that when he's old enough to be embarrassed by the things you keep, or doesn't get it or wants to keep everything. You're saving for you, and for the person he will be. As he gets older, try and remember that.

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@anoted: Actually, her making the decisions worked out really well. She just graduated high school, and we taped up the box after going through it. She remembered bits and peices of her childhood and had a great time. The last items put in there were her diploma and cap/gown.