Clearing the Clutter: Tips for Controlling School Paper Piles

The end of the school year is fast approaching. Wasn’t it January about five minutes ago? But you can’t stop time and in no time our kids will be running in the door with backpacks full of the year’s work. How do you decide what to keep? What to discreetly recycle when the kids aren’t looking? In my vast experience totaling one year with a child in elementary school, I have picked up a few ways to tame the paper piles and only keep the most favorite of all the worksheets.

Designate a “holding space” for the school year

At the beginning of the year, I designated a box in which I stored papers I thought might make the final “save” cut when school was winding down for the year. That way, when papers came home each week, I could quickly go through and pick out the things that may be worth saving down the road. The others went in the recycling. Easy as that. Now with the end of the year approaching, I plan to sit down with my daughter and go through the pile. She’ll get to choose a few things to save, and me too, and then the rest goes away.

Use one container for each child to save papers in the long run

When my daughter was in preschool, I ran across the idea to use one box to save all papers/projects from their school years. This results in less space being taken up over the years and forces everyone to be more selective in what gets kept for the long term. Right now, we are using an expandable file and it is working great! Each pocket corresponds to a grade level. This one from Target opens up wide and can store quite a few papers.

Find a place to keep the “memories”

Along the same lines, kids start doing stuff (plays, concerts, etc). With that stuff comes “stuff” (programs, photos, etc). In order to keep it all in one place, a sturdy (and cute) binder with page protectors can be the perfect solution. This option makes it easy to slip things in as soon as they are done. It’s also easy to flip through when the kids want to reminisce on what they have done.

Take pictures

Finally, a solution for all the art projects, drawings, and crafts. They can’t all be saved physically, but they can be saved. Snap a quick photo and save them in a folder. When you have enough photos, make a photo book. Wait for a coupon for a free photo book and you have those art projects saved without all the clutter.

What are your favorite ways to clear the clutter of school papers?


Amanda moved to the Dallas area as a child, moved away for college, but then returned “home” with her husband and new daughter. Now five years later, she and her family are putting down roots in Collin County. Her educational background is an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and a graduate degree in Early Childhood Studies. Most days you can find her doing her best to put her knowledge to work with 3 of the sweetest students around- born in 2010, 2014 and 2015. Once bedtime hits, you can find her doing some instructional design work, blogging, or finding the next great series on Netflix, usually with a cookie in hand. You can read more about her collection of thoughts on everything from motherhood and parenting to DIY and fitness, and whatever else is on her mind at her new blog <a href "" This Collective Life .