There are lots of suggestions for organizing kids’ artwork, these are some of my favorites. (I don’t have kids, however, as an art teacher, I’ve sent hundreds of kids home with thousands of pieces of art. In retrospect, I feel like I should have ended the week with a note home to the parents and kids with suggestions about how to deal with these creations.)
Have a cardboard file box for the current school year. Each time a child brings home a drawing, painting, or sculptural piece, put it into the box after you’ve viewed it and dated it.
If you want, you can display the most recent piece(s) on the refrigerator or in the child’s room using frames that allow you to change the artwork with ease. When a new piece comes in, ask the child if they want to display it or continue to show the previous work. This technique also gets kids in the habit of making decisions. When a piece comes down, put it in the box.
At the end of the school year, sit down with each child and sort through the contents of the box. Select the pieces the child is most proud of – perhaps they learned a new technique or developed a skill that allowed them to execute a project better than they had in the past; maybe they spent more time on this project than others.
Work down to approximately ten pieces. You can scan them, photograph them, or keep the actual pieces in a memory box. Three dimensional pieces can be photographed to save space. Even if you keep the physical objects, by making deliberate choices you could keep a child’s entire school age-related memories to a single file box.
If your child wants to display the piece throughout the summer, let them know that when the new school year starts, the piece will go away to make room for new creations.
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Susan Caplan McCarthy
I'm Susan, a writer and teacher developing a second career as a Decluttering Coach.