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What to Keep and Throw Away From School

What to Toss and Keep From That Pile of School Stuff You've Been Avoiding

My daughter's last day of school was 10 days ago (longest 10 days of my life, but that's another story), and I've yet to tackle the pile of papers/crafts/school supplies that she brought home during that last glorious week when she wasn't looking at me to entertain her for eight hours of the day. My avoidance has been, in part, caused by the overwhelming transition that is the first week of Summer vacation, but also because I'm not totally sure what to do with everything.

Am I a bad mom if I don't keep every kindergarten craft her little hands created? If I don't meticulously file away every "100" she earned by adding two and two correctly? Should I test every marker for viability or toss the lot? It's a conundrum every grade school mom must face . . . until now!

Here's a (sort of) definitive list of what to toss and keep from that lingering pile of school stuff.

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What to Toss

  • Homework sheets. If it's a photocopied worksheet, toss it, even if your kid got a perfect score. Start keeping these now, and your house will be overrun by the end of third grade.
  • Old school supplies, unless they're in great shape. Your school will most likely require you to purchase a new set of supplies for the upcoming school year, so unless your kid brought home markers, crayons, or glue sticks in pristine condition and not the dried-up, broken, used-up versions I got, just dump them.
  • Non-special crafts. If your child is new to elementary school, you might feel bad pitching all those craft projects you know they put so much time and effort into. Don't. Pick a few of your favorites; get rid of the rest. If you really feel guilty, take digital photos of every craft project and store the files digitally instead.
  • Time-stamped school correspondence. You don't need all those forms about this year's school calendar, upcoming field trips, incentive programs, and fundraisers. You'll get a whole new batch next year.
  • What to Keep

  • A few special crafts. A few years ago, my mom asked me to go through my childhood room and take/toss everything I wanted from the drawers full of my school memorabilia. Guess how many crafts I still wanted her to hold on to. About three. Keep that in mind when you're choosing and only hold onto the really special ones.
  • Report cards and standardized test scores. Sure, they're not the only measure of success, but it's a good practice to hold on to them over the course of your child's primary and secondary education for comparison.
  • A couple of writing samples. It's fun for you and your child to see how their handwriting, spelling skills, and vocabulary change over the years, so save an example or two from each grade level.
  • Notes to their future selves. My daughter's excellent kindergarten teacher had each student predict their post-high-school futures, and the results are absolutely hilarious. (My daughter apparently wants to be a "mommy doctor," while pretty much every boy in her class is hoping for a career as a Star Wars actor.) If you received something similar, hold on to it for sure.
  • Forms about the upcoming school year. Put anything you need for next year in a special place, or prepare for it to be lost over the Summer.
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