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Decluttering Your Child’s Schoolwork: What to Keep and Why

child's schoolwork

As a parent, you may be all too familiar with the endless piles of school paperwork that accumulate over the course of a school year. From graded assignments to artwork and school messages, it can be overwhelming to sort through it all. However, decluttering your child’s schoolwork at the end of the school year is essential so that you don’t end up with stacks of schoolwork when your child heads off to college and beyond.

Let’s look at how you will decide what to keep and what to toss.

What to keep at the end of the school year

As the school year draws to a close, it’s time to decide what paperwork to keep for the long term.

Keep all last quarter/semester work until grades are posted, especially if your child is struggling academically, as you may need it for teacher/parent conferences.

Some items you may want to keep for sentimental or practical reasons include benchmark papers that show this year’s growth, creative writing, artwork, and unique projects.

What to let go of

To declutter effectively, you need to be selective about what you keep. Weekly spelling tests or math skills tests can usually be discarded without a second thought. Similarly, anything that has been mass copied, such as word searches or seasonal art, can also be tossed. However, anything that shows poor work should be kept until grades are posted in case you want to discuss the work in a parent/teacher conference. After grades are reconciled, let the poor work go.

Who decides what to keep?

It’s important to involve your child in the decision-making process. This will give them a sense of ownership over their work and teaches them to make informed decisions about what to keep and what to let go.

You can each decide how many pieces to save. For example, if there is a lot of artwork, tell the child that you will select 10 pieces to keep, and they can choose 10 as well.  Then, together you can pick the 10 best out of the 20 pieces of art you have set aside.

During the school year, you can do a daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly review of your child’s schoolwork depending on the child’s age. Sorting through it all can be time-consuming, but it’s worth the effort to keep things organized.

How to store school paperwork

Once you’ve decided what to keep, you need to figure out how to store it. Hanging files labeled by year can be an effective way to keep paperwork organized. Notebooks with page protectors are also a good option. They allow you to easily flip through the pages without damaging the work. Portfolio folders are ideal for storing artwork, as artwork often is larger than note paper.


Decluttering your child’s schoolwork can be a daunting task, but it’s well worth the effort. Be selective about what you keep and involve your child in the decision-making process. This way you can create a collection of work that is both meaningful and manageable. Organizing and storing the paperwork in a thoughtful way will make it easier to find and enjoy in the years to come. So, roll up your sleeves, get sorting, and start decluttering today!

If you are struggling with organizing and filing papers or just want some help or accountability in following through with a plan, join Diane Quintana and me in our Clear Space for You virtual support group.

Jonda S. Beattie, Professional Organizer owner of Time Space Organization, and co-owner of Release, Repurpose, Reorganize. She is based in the Metro-Atlanta area. As presenter, author of four books as well as a retired special education teacher she uses her listening skills, problem solving skills, knowledge of different learning techniques, ADHD specialty, and paper management skills to help clients.



One Comment

  • That beautiful, bold, and colorful photo drew me in! It brought back such happy memories of our kiddos and their projects. Aside from what they brought home from school, they were prolific artists at home too. However, as you said, you can’t keep everything. We did a regular edit where I involved the kids. Then, at the school year’s end, we’d do one final edit. They enjoyed looking at their progress and determining what was most meaningful. And I also loved looking with them and encouraging those editing/organizing, and decision-making skills.

    Some of the things we did with the discards:
    • Used paintings (done on newsprint) as wrapping paper
    • Hung the week’s favorite art on a bulletin board – a revolving display – then either recycled or kept as a new one went up

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