What to Do When School Papers are Piling

It’s the last week of school, and while most kids are cheering, many parents are lamenting. If you’ve suddenly found yourself inundated with a whole year’s worth of your kids’ artwork, school projects and report cards, you’re not alone. If you feel overwhelmed by the school papers piled on your counter tops, tables and any other flat surfaces in your home, you can probably relate to this email I received recently…



Hi Hellen,


I was wondering if you have seen any great ideas for managing a portfolio for kids’ accomplishments. I really want to pull this together for my daughter (who is 7 years old) which I can continue to build on in future years.  So far I’ve been throwing everything into a large container. I’ve been feeling guilty about this as what I really want is a sequential portfolio of some kind that will be an overview of accomplishments and pictures (awards, badges, report cards from school and sports, school and class pictures, key artwork or writing). I’m thinking most people do this but when I ask around I haven’t heard of any useful solutions.

Love to hear your ideas on this.


Rose Ann

Hi Rose Ann,

Children’s report cards, awards, and other school-related items are important milestones of their achievements, but they can pile up quickly. I’m glad to hear that you have collected everything in one container. For parents who have these items scattered in various parts of the house, the first step is to gather them up and put them in one container. The next step is to purchase a durable banker’s box or a hard plastic portable file tote (pictured above, courtesy of Container Store) for each child, along with a set of hanging files. Label each hanging file according to the school year, and keep the current one at the front. When your child brings home artwork, awards and pictures, simply place them in a tray or bin that you’ve designated for this purpose (choose a different color for each child). At the end of the year, go through the items in the container together with your child, and pick out the gems.

“Choose the best and let go of the rest”

The rest can be thrown out guilt-free (or given to grandparents or other close relatives), as you’ll have a good sampling of the year’s accomplishments. Take photos of any items that are too bulky to keep (i.e. poster boards or 3-D science projects) and slip them into this year’s file folder, which can now be moved to the back of the box.

Hope this helps.



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This post has 6 comments

  • Nicole says:

    My kids and I sorted their artwork projects from their elementary school days. We took photos of the best ones. I then used snapfish.com to create photo books for each child. One book for me and one for them!

  • Twila Peck says:

    Nice idea Nicole!!

    If you have the space/money, you might consider framing your favorite art work – you could change these out yearly. or whenever you feel like it, as well, if you get a frame that you can handle yourself.
    I am especially fond of my children’s Xmas art and have a few pieces I bring out and hang for the long holiday season.

  • With ten kids (10kids.com), school stuff at my home quickly piles up. I allocate one big inter-office envelope to each child for each year. I keep these labelled envelopes in a box not far from my desk in the kitchen. When things come home, I put the best work in the envelope. I love to cut out the journal entries they write in elementary school, staple them together and tuck them in the envelope. At the end of the year, the box is put in storage and a new one is started in the fall. Last Christmas all the kids pulled out their accumulated envelopes and read through them. What a wealth of memories, funny stories and good times we shared. The key is to keep only the best.

  • Nancy says:

    Hi Helen ,
    I have a daughter going into grade eleven and a son going into grade eight. Over the years I kept all ther big projects and art work in a long flat bin that I keep under my bed and the smaller art work in the plastic boxes. But I do keep all of their reports and special awards in a bind ( one for each) in plastic sleeves this has worked well. School photos in another plastic box .
    But now can you help me organize my home office space it seems to be the dumping ground for everything

  • Karen Mc says:

    One of my kids graduated from high school this past week, and my other is going into grade 10, that’s many years of collecting and I’m surprised our small house isn’t cluttered with their work, but to be truthful, when I was caught up watching “NEAT” I bought some big boxes from jysk (they have snaps on them to put them together) for paperwork. I bought a sturdy poster carrier from Artists Emporium for the big projects that I just can’t part with right now, and it fits perfectly behind a dresser. And I’ve been organizing binders for each that display, reports, certificates, photos, awards, anything that fits and works in page protectors, or even card page protectors (for those smaller items). The binders on a shelf just look like books, there are some pretty cool binders out there, and the boxes are pretty nice, so they don’t have to be tucked away.

    Thanks for all the ideas, love getting more, or just improving on the old.

  • Donna S says:

    For larger art projects or any art really I take a picture of my child with their ‘masterpiece’. The picture gives you a time and age reference to the work they were producing at that time and then the art can be recycled!! Years from now a drawing doesn’t really say as much as how cute they were in a photo with their squiggly line picture of mommy!!