Once your child reaches the age when he or she can pick up a crayon, the stream of artwork and papers is about to begin – and it won’t end for years to come.
“I recently purged and redecorated my house,” said Kathleen Thometz, a multi-media artist and mother of four in Western Springs, IL, “I have four children and had about seven big bins of their papers and stuff.”
Having a system in place, or creating one, is a great way to make sure the best memories are kept and more importantly, enjoyed for years to come.
Follow these guidelines to fully appreciate and store your child’s art and schoolwork.
1. Take an Inventory
Start by surveying the amount of papers and art you have, and where it is all stored.
“I had been putting stuff in bins for years and they were piled up in the basement,” explained Thometz.
If the school year just ended, and you have a large stack of papers and books your daughter came home with during the course of the last nine months, that pile might be a good starting point.
Before you tackle a large pile, consider giving items a quick glance, suggested Jill Robson, founder of Life Sorted. You might be able to quickly toss scraps that are no longer needed.
2. Sort Together
It’s important to get your children involved so they feel in control of their stuff, explained Robson.
If it’s a large stash, consider scooping out a small pile and then looking at just those items with your child. Ask them what they want to keep and want they don’t mind saying goodbye to.
Another strategy: make the sorting a family event.
“I put all of the bins in a room and each kid was given a half-size bin,” said Thometz. “We made an event of going through everything and laughing over school pictures and funny papers.”
To set guidelines, Thometz told her children to keep school photos, artwork they had made, original writing and tests that had funny answers or comments from their teacher. She also advised the kids to throw out coloring pages, tests, worksheets, and art that had an adults’ hand in it.
“I now have four half bins,” said Thometz.
3. Narrow it Down
“If everything is special, then nothing is special,” explained Hazel Thornton, founder of Organized For Life. “It’s easier to find the best pieces to admire and share and reminisce over if you don’t have hundreds of pieces to sift through.”
Consider displaying some of your son’s favorite art pieces in his bedroom, in the family room, or in other areas of your home.
“I have one framed piece and one sculptural piece by each kid somewhere around the house,” added Thometz.
4. Keep it Positive
“Make it a summertime ritual to go through that year’s schoolwork and artwork,” suggested Thornton.
Also look for ways to associate the sorting with an uplifting activity. You might tell your children that after sorting for 30 minutes, you’ll go to the park or head out for ice cream.
Put items your child wants to keep in a special photo or memory box, and store it in a place where they can easily access it.
5. Give Some Away
Drawings, finger paintings or holiday-themed coloring pages can be scanned into your computer and then turned into the fronts of holiday greeting cards, said Candi Wingate, president of Nannies4hire.com. “You can print these greeting cards at home or a photograph developer retailer can do this for you for a minimal charge.”
You might also scan drawings into your computer or take a picture and use them to create personalized gifts for relatives and friends. Digitalized artwork could be turned into a wall hanging, calendar, pillow, T-shirt, mug or key chain.
“Molded imprints of your little ones’ hands can be great holiday gifts for family members such as grandmothers and grandfathers,” added Wingate. The same is true for paper mache or ceramic sculptures.
6. Use an App
Keepy lets you upload pictures, snapshots of your child’s art, video and even notes. It then organizes everything by child and year. You can share the memory timeline it creates with family and friends.
Canvasly allows you to capture, organize and save kids’ artwork in one spot.
Artkive helps you keep track of colorings and drawings digitally and stores them in the cloud. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can mail in the pieces and Artkive will digitize them for you. Artkive will also publish your child’s art work into a book if you want.
With the Art My Kid Made app, you take a picture of your kids’ art. You can then tag it, back it up, share it, or even print it out to enjoy.