Last year, when Big C was in kindergarten, he came home with the most adorable schoolwork. Art projects, worksheets, and my favorite, lined paper on which he practiced his handwriting and ultimately attempted to formulate words and sentences. At the start of the year, I kept EVERYTHING. I dated the back of the papers, hole punched them, and organized them neatly in a 3-ring binder. I couldn’t bear to throw anything away.

About halfway through the school year, the binder was bulging, and I realized I had no choice but to start removing papers if I expected to have enough space through June. I sadly tore out generic worksheets and coloring sheets, stuffing them at the bottom of the recycling bin before Big C could spot them and ask how I could be so cruel as to consider his hard work trash.

I’m proud to say I fit most of his kindergarten year into that binder, with report cards tucked into the front pocket. I have frequently flipped through the contents, my heart swelling at the progress he made in 1 short year. That binder is almost as much of a treasure as his baby book.

Big C is now in 1st grade, and for the first few weeks I performed the same ritual as I had a year ago. Admire, hole punch, collate. But 1 day, as I placed the binder on the shelf beside his kindergarten binder, I wondered how long I was planning to keep this up. Would I continue to save his schoolwork until he graduated from high school? Where would I store these binders? And what exactly did I plan to do with them? I highly doubt he’d appreciate my efforts when I passed them on to him as an adult. He’d probably just wonder why I kept them all these years and then throw them away himself.

Add to that the fact that I have another child, which means twice as many binders.  Little C is already bringing home her own adorable schoolwork from preschool, and I don’t have the heart to throw her papers out either.  Should I really save them all?

As difficult as it’s going to be, I’ve decided to just keep the best of the best.  The first letters and numbers written.  The cutest drawings.  The best handwriting samples.  The funniest journal entries.  And of course the Mother’s Day cards.  Maybe I can pick a dozen or so of my favorites from each year and make 1 big schoolwork binder for each child.  That way, when they go off to college, I can nestle into my empty nest clutching those binders and reminding myself how far they’ve come.

What do you do with your child’s schoolwork?  Do you treasure it or toss it?

17 Comments on Treasure It or Toss It?

  1. I know my mom kept most of my big projects in school but probably when I have kids I'll be keeping a lot of their school projects and doing the same thing that you do. However, there comes a time where you do have to clean out some things.

  2. Another option I've heard bandied about is to digitize the work you might want to save, but don't want taking up space. If you have a scanner, you can scan in a whole year's worth of journal entries to take up next to no physical space. Just make sure to back up your hard drive regularly!

  3. Even though I don't have kids, I am a big time sap when it comes to physical things that evoke emotion from me. I have gotten a lot better over the years, but every so often I get in a mood to get rid of all my crap- and I'm ruthless. I never remember what I threw away, but I do know why I kept other things. So, I hoard and stack, and purge. It's my comfy cycle.

  4. I was the first child in my family … my mom kept absolutely *EVERYTHING* from grades K-3 for me. My twin brothers? She didn't save as much of their stuff.

    It's up to you what you choose to do with your children's educational materials. Ours? Is in a gigantic hope chest at the foot of her bed.

  5. My mom kept a lot of things, ones that were special or extra good or whatever. They were kept in a "box" in a closet. One for me and one for my brother. Then when I graduated college she took everything from that box and met with a Creative Memories scrapbooker and spent a year building me two scrapbooks of my entire life.

    It is my most treasured possession. Things in there include a ton of pictures, awards, drawings, report cards, newspaper clippings, hair from my first hair cut…. I had no idea she had all this stuff! It started with me as a baby then did every grade and year of school I had through college.

    So I say hold on to it! Or some of it! You never know….

  6. I know exactly what you mean!! My kids started crying when they started seeing some of the "tosses" in the garbage, like I was the worse mom in the world! So we started mailing them to grandparents, aunts and uncles, honestly whoever we could think of =) It makes their day, and what they do with it is then their problem, lol

  7. My mom did this for me. Everything got tossed in a box in my closet when I brought it home. A few weeks into summer, she would go through the box and save her favorites. It all went into a binder labeled with the year and grade. She did it all the way through high school graduation. I kept it up with in college with all my syllabi and papers written. She has them all at her house still. I know eventually it will get tossed, but it's nice to know they're there. I'm sure when my boys are older it will be fun to look back and compare their stuff to what mommy did in 1st grade.

  8. I know awhile back I read about two families' solutions and thought they were pretty cool:

    1.) Each set of grandparents or far-away family member had a box (or bin, or whatever). Into the box went a sampling of school work, art projects, etc. When a box was full, the family would pack up the treasures and send them to the proud grandparent(s). :).

    2.) The family kept the kids' school work, art work, notes, etc. in a binder or box (like you've done) but at the end of the school year (or month if the binder gets too full!) the parents sat down with each kid and went through their binder. Together they would decide which things they wanted to keep and which were okay to pass to the recycle monkeys :). The kids got just as much of a kick out of it as the parents!

  9. I've still got a notebook with some of my favorite essays, papers and articles I had published from high school and college. I think I'm going to do that for each of our kids, as well. That way we've got them, but they are semi-organized.

  10. I took pictures of all the artwork and saved them to my computer. And still have the "hard copies". Definitely need to clean out…

  11. So far, the only think I've thrown out has been math and grammar.
    With 5 kids though, it's piling up FAST!
    The military only moves a certain amount of weight. Pretty soon they're going to need an entire truck just for the kids' schoolwork! šŸ™‚ I think that before we PCS next summer, I'm going to go through it all and pick out a few of the best and toss the rest!

  12. I dont know what to tell you about school work, but my Aunt used to save all of my cousins artworks (she's an art teacher its in her blood) Eventually they consumed many boxes. So she decided to take a picture of all of them and make a photoalbum of them and keeps her best art works. Maybe you can do something like that too!

  13. I read a book at the beginning of this year called The Happiness Project and she got an accordion file folder for each of her kids. The special stuff like holiday cards, invitations and awesome school work would go in those files and there was a section for each year of school. I'm going to use that method probably. That way it's smaller and I'll still be able to hold onto those things for Little Butt.

  14. I don't have kids, but my husband's mom kept EVERYTHING. And now she has given it to us. To be honest, most of it we threw without really even looking at it, just kept a few of the larger projects from his school days. I probably wont keep much of my kids stuff, but I say that now knowing my tune will probably change if I have kids :)!

  15. That is the issue my sister ran into. She has four kiddies so she ended up taking pictures of all the big projects and just saving a few of the pictures, essays, and such and then puts it all in their memory boxes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *