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The Annual School Paper Purge


My children are in elementary school, and the amount of paper they bring home during the year really adds up. I keep one bin for each child’s papers and add to it all year. I tend to keep more items than necessary (a math worksheet, coloring pages, etc.), but the bin serves as a holding space for anything that came home that a child might ask for a week after the fact. It’s a bit of an insurance policy.


By the end of the school year, the bins are busting at the seams, the lids no longer close, and I’m tempted to toss the entire thing in the recycling. However, while 90% of the contents will, in fact, go into the recycling, I know there will be that 10% worthy of holding onto for longer: the writing prompts, some artwork, and possibly a photo or two. 


After the weed of the bin and my special 10% are identified, those papers are moved to a manila file and labeled with the child’s name and academic year. Kept papers are relocated to a filing area, and the bins are empty and ready for summer camp creations. When camp ends, I will repeat the process and prep the bins for the next academic year.


Having the designated space for kids’ papers helps keep the counters clear of school work and allows the entire family to know where to look if something is needed. I am fortunate that my children tend to be “out of sight, out of mind” with things that come home from school, so I am able to decide what items are of the greatest importance to keep.


The rhythm of the academic year, with a defined start and end, helps drive this organizing system and keeps it working. 

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