I was thoroughly impressed with Samantha's process for organizing and storing school papers--how about you? It's amazing how we each develop a personal process for dealing with the worksheets and art projects that enter our homes! When we chatted about this very topic on the phone, it was a great conversation. We were both interested in each other's process, and actually found them to be complementary. We thought that perhaps our And She Writes community could use some of this information as school starts this year.
When the paper comes in, we place it in a decorative storage crate in the dining room until it can be dealt with (aka when it overflows).
Then, I go through the pile to sort the worksheets, short stories and artwork. If the kids want to participate in the sorting, they are welcome. The material goes in one of four piles:
Display - They may tape work on their door or hang on a bulletin board for a period of time.
Discard - It turns out, some of these worksheets are just not that precious!
Photograph and Discard - Much of the artwork and interesting worksheets fall into this pile. It's fun to also take a photograph with their hand in the frame or of them holding something up to show age.
Photograph and Keep - This is a very small pile, saved for the most sentimental pieces, like Father's Day fill-in-the-blanks or art show pieces. These items then go in a Memory Box in the basement.
After I sort and photograph with my iPhone on a plain surface in natural light, I upload to a folder on my computer. I try to label each image with an approximate month, keeping the iPhone number as part of the file name in case I'm trying to accurately date another image in the upload file.
At the end of the school year and summer (to include camp materials), I create a hard cover Shutterfly photo book. I label sections of the book by month or season, and I organize them in order, from fall through summer to show each child's growth. Because these can be around 50 pages, I wait until Shutterfly has a good promotion, such as free extra pages.
Things to Note
I don't worry about perfection; sometimes things are wrinkled, or the lighting is not perfect. I'd rather have a record of this time than wait for perfection, so I just move forward when I have time to work on these books.
If there is a fun artifact I'd like to store with the book, Shutterfly offers memory pockets that can be stuck to the back cover. These are great for saving small mementos of the year, like a program or a card.
I let my children look at these. They are a bit of an investment of time and money, but I want us to enjoy them, so I never mind if the kids take them off the bookshelf and page through to see what they created as a younger child.
I think these would be a great complement to Samantha's process. Once each of her folders is assembled for the year, they could be photographed and printed in a book form, maybe to be shared with grandparents or as a future gift for her kids.
Please try this process out if you are struggling with your children's school papers. It's a little laborious, but I'm so glad I've done this. Share it with a friend if it works for you!