End of School Year: What to Toss and What to Keep
by Jennifer Cummings, M.Ed.
What to Toss and What to Keep
At the end of every school year, parents are forced to answer the question, ‘What should we keep?’ There are literally hundreds of papers, notices, pictures, and projects that come home throughout the year, and knowing what to keep from year to year and what can be tossed away can help your family from being overrun by paper.
Now it is definitely important to keep those pieces that have significant emotional value for you, such as the construction paper bunny with its ears on upside-down. Likewise, your child’s first A+ paper should go in the save pile, as well. However, when sorting through the pile of accumulated work, ask yourself if you’ll really miss the tenth spelling test of the year, or the math homework that was found in the bottom of the pack back in April. Don’t feel bad about not keeping every written word your child has produced from September to June each year; keeping everything will only ensure you’ll have too much stuff around to ever really want to look through it again.
Here are some hints to help you reduce the clutter factor at the end fo the year:
Items that should be kept each year:
- Report cards or mid-term progress reports
- Certificates of achievement or recognition
- Notes to/from school regarding academic or behavioral difficulties
- Art projects that hold special importance to you
- Any academic , psychological, or standardized testing results or reports
- Individual education plans (IEP’s), or 504 plans
- Milestone papers: first A+, best math test, or first cursive paper completed, for example
- Notes from parent/teacher conferences or other meetings attended
- Thank you notes from teachers or others
- Reports/ documents from physicians or outside consultants that may impact your child’s learning
- Daily/weekly academic or behavior reports
Tips for Organizing:
- Try a 3-ring binder. Use a hole punch to prepare school papers, and keep them in chronological order as they are received.
- Use a large paperboard art portfiolio to hold art projects, posters, or oversized papers. These are often hard to store, and the portfoilio will keep them neat, organized, and wrinkle-free.
- Keep papers handy in an accordion-style folder. Set up separate sections for each different type of paperwork.
- Use multi-colored file folders to organize papers in a section of a file cabinet. Use a different colored folder each year.
- Keep records and formal paperwork separate from daily work and art work that comes home.
- Keep copies of all documents that are signed by yourself and/or school officials; ask for copies at the school if needed. Store these with papers from the same year, or in an organized binder with the dates marked for your records.
- Store daily work or art work in zippered plastic vacuum storage bags for easy storage in the attic. The bags keep dust, spiders, and wetness out, and keep papers bound tighly in.
By spending some time at the tail end of the school year, and by being able to keep only the important papers for your family, you will have a more organized system of collecting your child’s work. That will mean more storage space for you and a greater likelihood of being able to find what you’re looking for in the future.
Happy organizing, and have a great vacation!
"I believe that families' involvement in their child's education is one of the key ingredients to creating a successful school experience for children. Keeping parents informed about school-related issues helps parents and teachers work together for the best possible outcomes for their children. Learning together makes learning fun - for everyone!" - Jennifer Cummings.
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