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Tuesday Morning Tidy: Organizing the "Schoolwork Dump"

I generally avoid making decisions on the spot. If I have it my way, I marinate on my choices, if you will, before coming to a final decision. I also struggle with tossing out any of my children’s writings, artwork and homemade drawings. These two facts about me make for a wicked combination in one particular area of my life.

Years ago, the overwhelming amount of graded school work and creations my daughters’ brought home daily spiked my anxiety. I like to call this the "schoolwork dump." What do I do with this? Do I keep all of it or just the “good stuff?” What is the “good stuff?” I experienced this self-induced pressure regularly. By the second month of my oldest’s kindergarten year, I realized I needed a method to follow so that I could save my daughter's school work without having to decide what I wanted to keep “forever” on a regular basis.

So, I came up with the “Schoolwork Tubs.” Each child has their own 12 liter tub with a lid. Schoolwork, after being reviewed or displayed at home, is stored in each child’s respective tub. I don’t throw anything away during the school year. In our previous house, I kept the tubs on the shelves in our hallway craft closet. In our current house, they are stored on enclosed shelves in a large piece of furniture.

After the school year ends, usually some time before the next school year begins, I go through each child’s tub. I reflect on the work and sometimes my daughters will help me. We decide on what we think is worth keeping and then I recycle the rest of the papers. After I sort through all three tubs, I store the year’s keepsakes and memories for all three children in one medium size tub. (I separate and label their work with three dividers, which are essentially pieces of paper with their names on it). On the outside of the medium tub, I write their names and grades during that academic year. After the purge and save, their personal tubs are cleared out and ready for the next school year. Whew!

The tubs before the purge this summer.

I can’t stress enough how these tubs have taken the pressure off me to make daily and weekly decisions. In addition, it has saved our kitchen and my children's bedrooms from being taken over with heaps of past assignments and artistic creations.

There have been unexpected benefits from this method. For example, it is convenient for each child to have a tub of past schoolwork to refer to when preparing for a test. Moreover, my daughters have used the tubs to check if something came home graded but shows up missing in the online grade book. The tubs work really well for our family and I hope you give them a try in the future!

Warning: I have noticed that the younger the child, the more school work they bring home. The tub may start to overflow. This happens in our household. I usually stop using the lid and keep trucking along. Sadly, once they reach middle school, you will have fewer items to put into their tub. Like with all parenting highs and lows, this one doesn’t last forever either.

I’d love to know if you choose to adopt this approach or if you have your own method that has worked effectively for your family. Let us know on our social media accounts or send us an email at

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