One thing that all parents have in common is the feeling that time flies – their children are babies one minute and leaving for college the next. Because those days of early childhood are so fleeting, it is important to find ways to protect and preserve them in some way. Storing your children’s artwork properly is essential if you want to keep it safe and be able to look back on childhood memories.
Deciding What to Keep
New parents often look at every piece of artwork as precious. They want to display or save everything. However, as your children start school you may soon realize that keeping everything is not really practical. Most kids come home with new artwork and schoolwork every day. If you let it, it could easily take over your house.
Here are some tips to help you narrow down what you keep and what you recycle:
- Keep any piece of artwork that represents a milestone. For example, you might keep your child’s first watercolor painting, or their first self-portrait.
- Choose the best examples of a particular kind of art. Some kids go through phases where they draw one thing over and over again, such as dinosaurs or fairies. You can even get your child involved in picking their favorites.
- Make sure to save one or two items from each school year so you have a timeline of your child’s artistic development.
Depending on your child’s temperament, it may help to let them be a part of the winnowing process. You may also decide to mail some artwork to friends and relatives.
How to Store Artwork
You may want to wait until the end of a school year to decide what to throw away and what to keep, or you may want to make those decisions on an ongoing basis. Here are some tips to help you manage the mountain of paper, both in the short and long-term.
- Sort through papers immediately as they come home. This will help you separate artwork from other school papers, and also let you sort out the things that you need to see, such as field trip permission slips and so on. If you have more than one child, you may want to have an art bin or folder for each one.
- If your child likes to see their artwork for a while after they bring it home, you can hang special pieces on the refrigerator. Another option is to string a clothesline across your child’s bedroom or playroom and use clothespins to hang the artwork.
- One good way to keep artwork safe is to buy simple plastic page protectors and put them in a binder. If most of your child’s artwork is on standard-size paper, you can keep it all in one binder and add page protectors as needed. You can label each binder with your child’s age, use tabs to track their progress, or even put your child’s school picture on the cover.
- Another option is to buy portfolios from a craft store or office supply store. Depending on the size of the portfolio and how much you want to keep, you may be able to keep your storage to one portfolio per child per year. Most portfolios are relatively flat and easy to store.
- Large pieces can be rolled and stored in poster tubes. This may also be a helpful storage method for oddly-shaped pieces that won’t fit in the portfolio.
- Very special pieces that you want to make sure to preserve can be laminated or framed. Lamination is a good way to protect artwork that won’t fit in a page protector or portfolio. You can buy lamination supplies at office supply stores and craft stores.
The amount of artwork your child produces may be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to get out of control. If you have a good system in place, it will be easy to store your child’s artwork and keep those treasured memories safe.