If you’ve got younger kids at home, you’re also battling the daily onslaught of coloring pages and crafts that have made their way through your front door.
The teachers are genius. The KNOW all the papers cannot be saved --- there just isn’t enough room in the cubbies. So they pass the hard conversation onto the parents: How do you tell your kids that your house simply isn’t big enough to contain every doodle, craft, or writing activity completed each day? And that some of these papers will meet their demise at the weekly trash collection?
You tell them the truth.
Children are very resilient. They learn quickly and bounce back from disappointment when surrounded by a supportive family. Did you catch the word supportive? In order for your kids to be okay with limiting the “prized” possessions, you’ll need to equip them with two life skills:
- Learning To Determine Value
- Learning To Establish Boundaries
Lessons about value center on comparison. Which do you like more? Which did you put the most effort into creating? Which is your favorite of the day/week? Questions like these help our kids to select the best and most loved items.
Although it would be great if our schedules allowed us to go through the folder and evaluate each piece every day, that probably isn’t realistic. In the mean time, have a drop location for all the papers that come home in the folder for the week. At the end of the week, possibly on Sunday night, go through the papers and have your child pick out their top 5.
Only 5?! Only 5 per week?! You read that correctly. This is where teaching your children to establish healthy boundaries comes into play. They cannot and should not learn to keep everything. There is no reason to hold onto everything. At the same time, they should learn that there is space to keep those items that are dear to their little hearts. Remember that refusing to let a child to keep anything can lead them to develop hoarding tendencies, so you must find a healthy boundary. I like the number 5. Most likely your kid(s) will learn to choose less than that each week.
At school, it’s likely that your child’s teacher is collecting artifacts (favorites or best samples of work) for the year to demonstrate your child’s progress. You can do the exact same thing at home and even encourage your child that you’re simply following the teacher’s lead.
To contain the artifacts, purchase a clear box that holds letter size file folders and assign a grade level to each folder. (Check out which products I use for this clutter clearing activity here!) Children understand size much earlier than we give them credit. When we let them know, in a supportive and loving way, that we want to collect their best works within a folder, they quickly see that the folder is only so big. For larger projects that would not fit within the folder, take a picture of the artifact. Don’t forget to PRINT the picture and allow your child to place this image within his/her folder for the year.
If you’re collecting 5 pieces each week, your folder will quickly fill up. In this case, also go through the folder with your child as frequently as necessary. Compare items from earlier in the year to items they’ve just brought home.
It’s important during this process that YOU follow THEIR lead. If your kid loves a piece that you think is crap, let them keep the crap.
These life lessons aren’t about you.
Feel free to rescue the cast-offs for your own saving (and store them in that file folder after the year is through so that you can ask your child about keeping them at a later time). The point is to show your child that you trust their decisions and you support them in determining value and establishing boundaries in their own kid-realm.
Empower your kids with confidence as you tactfully teach them to live successfully.