Hudson Valley Parent

November 2013

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Managing the mounds How to keep the sentimental clutter under control By DENISE YEARIAN E very year, children begin bringing home a hodgepodge of school papers that left unmanaged can grow into a mountainous heap. To keep kids' artwork, past assignments and graded documents in check, parents should establish an effective paper management system. "The biggest problem with kids' papers is parents are sentimental and want to keep most of what their child does. But that's not practical, nor is it essential," says Kathy Schlegel, student academic coach and founder of Organized Enough Coaching and Consulting. "To keep paper clutter under control, I suggest parents toss the majority of what comes home. But retain a few items for recordkeeping and nostalgic purposes." Elementary school principal Charles Sheppard, agrees. "It's a good idea to hold onto graded papers that may be in question through the end of each marking period in case there is a discrepancy on the report card and you need documentation to discuss it with the teacher," he says. "At the end of the marking period, throw away items that aren't necessary or meaningful to you. But hold on to a few really impressive pieces — stories your child has written, select artwork and papers with encouraging comments. Put your child's age, grade and date on the backside of these so later he'll have a sampling of what he did." It may also be helpful to retain some records for the duration of your child's academic career. "None of this is required by state, but sometimes things get destroyed or are missing if a catastrophe occurs," says Gail Ralph, a public school records analyst. "Because of the unforeseen, 28 Hudson Valley Parent n November 2013 parents should retain their child's report cards, battery tests and immunization records. If their child is eligible for special education they should also maintain the past three years of individual education plans, as well as any fact sheets that document medical evidence or his initial diagnosis." Take photos Robin Elton holds onto report cards and select items for a keepsake binder she's planning to create for each of her children. Other pages are displayed and then eventually recycled. "When papers come home from school we immediately decide what to display, what to toss and what to reuse," says the mother of three. "Each child has a bulletin board in the hall- Turn large artwork into wrapping paper for boxes or use as tissue paper in bags. way, so art work they are particularly proud of goes there and is rotated at their discretion. Well-done schoolwork, tests and projects get posted on the refrigerator and are cleared every Sunday as part of our weekly cleaning. Things I really like I'll frame and put up on the dining room wall. As artwork ultimately finds its way to the recycling bin, the artist is photographed with it and these pictures serve as a random slideshow on the computer screen." Schlegel thinks this is a good idea. Control the clutter Make immediate decisions When your children get home from school, go through and discard all insignificant papers, then decide which ones to display and which, if any, to keep. The following questions may help in the decision-making process: Is this an inventive story or unique drawing? Is this a special report with an exceptional grade and/or encouraging teacher comment? Maintain for the marking period Keep graded papers that may be in question through the end of each marking period in case there is a discrepancy on the report card and you need documentation to discuss it with the teacher. Like- wise maintain your child's attendance record to be sure it accurately reflects the numbers listed on the report card. At the end of the marking period, discard all items no longer needed. Preserve for patterns If your child is struggling and may need a tutor, consider keeping samples of his work to show troubling academic trends. Discipline of downsizing Teach your child how to continually downsize paper piles by helping him learn which items are of true lasting value and which ones can be quickly discarded. In doing so, he will begin a life-long habit of clutter-free living that will benefit him for years to come.

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