The Procrastinator’s Guide to Organizing Kid’s School Papers


With summer almost over (or over for some today!), school prep is in order. For me, it means it’s time to deal with the stack of last year’s school papers sitting on my dining room table.  This stack includes all the special papers we have saved throughout the school year and want to keep long-term. 

Deciding What Kid’s School Papers to Keep

It’s tempting especially in the first years to keep everything. I soon realized this was not practical whatsoever, nor does it contribute to what I want my kids to remember about grade school. I start sorting through the pile and quickly create 3 smaller piles of “must keep”, “maybe keep” and the throw away/recycle paper.

Must Keep

  • report cards
  • school programs (choir, etc.)
  • about me writings
  • journals
  • photographs
  • major art projects
  • notes from classmates

Maybe Keep

  • graded tests
  • worksheets demonstrating mastering a new skill
  • artwork
  • composition books

Then I quickly go through the “maybe keep” stack and determine if the items succinctly capture who they were that year.  This is a good example:

I love how she randomly wrote down her current favorite TV shows, and she chose to write about her birthday for some assignment.

Where to Keep Kid’s School Papers

Now that you have decided what items to keep, it’s time to determine where to keep these mementos.  I analyzed where I would keep these keepsakes before I chose the container.  This way, I can shop for a container(s) that fits perfectly.  (Let’s be honest, shopping for containers in the best part!)  I ultimately chose to store them in our basement alongside seasonal decorations. 

How to Keep Kid’s School Papers

The summer after Kindergarten, I researched containers and finally selected this Portable Wing Lid File Box.  I love the fact that it is larger than letter size paper to accommodate the larger art projects, and it is easy to flip through in case you need to pull something out. 

Right now we have a box for Kindergarten and 1st grade, but I believe we will be able to combine boxes as we advance the grades.  The 2nd grade keepsakes only filled half the box this year.  I’m going to try and put 4-6 grade all in one box with separate hanging files. 

I find it easier for storage and organization purposes to use the same style container over and over.  I should probably consider purchasing stock in this container company!  You can also find some great containers at Five Below.  They have several DC area locations including Columbia Heights and Springfield.   This “Really Useful Box” is also a great option that stacks beautifully:

Learn from my mistakes

  • Throughout the year, I wish I would have emptied the weekend homework folder into the two stacks I mentioned above, and recycled everything else immediately.  I cannot tell you how many math worksheets I recycled.
  • I wish I would have explored digitalizing mementos at the end of Kindergarten and kept few, precious keepsakes per year.  At this point, I feel overwhelmed trying to go back and digitalize!
  • Put away and recycle the year’s mementos WITHOUT your child around.  Trust me!