De-Cluttering 2018

Battling the Basement: The Plethora of Papers and Projects

I have gotten started sorting the home education books I am ready to share with others. Those decisions are made fairly quickly. We are nearing the end of our journey (my youngest is a sophomore in high school), so the completed resources are easy to detect. What is not so easy is the next goal: figuring out which papers and projects to keep archived.

There are many opinions on this subject, even within the same family. So, I recommend proceeding with caution. That scrap of paper that looks like garbage to a Thrower is a treasure for the Saver. My husband and I still dispute the wisdom of keeping his kindergarten papers. By the same token, he might not understand why I still have my college research papers and notes. Not to mention church bulletins with poetic scrawls where sermon notes should be. Taking all types into account, here is my strategy for reducing our plethora of papers and projects.

  • Remember the three criterion for sorting: Determine if it will shock, burden, or bore.

    • What could be shocking about home education papers? Journals! Make sure your child is okay with you reading them.
    • What might burden them? Keeping more than they want in their basements some day.
    • What might bore them? Anything outside their interests.

With those parameters in mind…

  • Consider primary interests and future areas of study: My children will not shed tears over discarding their math assignments. But, sketch books are sacred.
  • My interests are not necessarily their interests: I knew I wanted to be a writer at the age of ten, so I shudder to consider throwing out those early drafts. My kids wouldn’t think twice before pitching theirs.
  • Their interests are not necessarily my interests: I might see the value of keeping certain papers for documentation purposes. When a child is on an IEP, it is important to keep records.   Even so…
  • When at all possible, create a digital copy: Most documents can be scanned and stored on a hard drive or in the cloud (password protected, of course). Special projects (like that bug or leaf collection) can be photographed once it has been completed.
  • Keep what is essential: I was aptly reminded by my home-education-store friend that only two pieces of documentation are essential for home school: the transcript and the diploma. I would add the IEPs if you have a special needs child and state-required yearly test copies. But, remember all of these can be stored digitally.
  • Preserve what can be reused or appreciated in the future: One thing I plan to keep is the replica of the Tabernacle. We put it together from a kit at the beginning of our home education years. Since then, I’ve used it several times. This is a family treasure I hope to share with my grandchildren.

I can’t guarantee that I will toss every scrap of paper (I’m sure that my husband’s kindergarten papers and my scribbled-up church bulletins will be in our wills), but with these strategies in mind, I hope to reduced out stack of boxes considerably.

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