A couple years ago, my parents were de-cluttering their house when they came across my school memory box. Looking at all the items inside brought back many memories that I had totally forgot about.
In my own life at that time, my daughter was in kindergarten and my son was full time in daycare. So the timing could have not been any more perfect. I was able to reflect on which items meant the most to me and internally visualize what my children may one day appreciate.
Based on my own experiences, below please find 5 tips for managing school memory boxes and a questionnaire of fun questions to ask your child.
1. What to Keep
This will be the most difficult decision. Keeping every piece of artwork that enters your household is not an option. The sheer amount of doodles and drawings that are produced by young kids is unimaginable.
The typical main items to keep are any special occasion art works. The mother’s day, father’s day and birthday cards produced show how pure-hearted children are.
Other main keepsakes are report cards, awards, accomplishments in sports or art, etc.
Within mine, my parents were thoughtful enough to realize my love for music. And they had kept many ticket stubs from memorable concerts that I attend. Many of which I attribute to how I was shaped into me.
So you may need to think outside the box to visualize what makes your child tick today and perhaps in the future. And treat the memory box as a living, growing document. If their interests change in middle school, adapt what you are keeping.
And the keepsakes don’t need to be apple to apple between kids. Make them as unique to what they each represent.
2. How to Store –Hard Copies
Back when I was growing up, the actual piece of paper was the full extent of what was available. To me, it is still the preferred way.
Being able to physically hold the memento later in life is a unique experience. But maintaining these documents is another test!
For this you need to ensure the paperwork is stored safely. Best bet is to get a waterproof storage container. It doesn’t need to be high end but it needs to keep the odd water leak away.
Here is a link to a heavy duty storage container that fits leagal size folders and is stackable.
This leads to not storing the storage container directly on the ground. If you have space in the top of your closest, that is a terrific, safe location.
As you don’t want total chaos within your storage box, another easy tip is to use file folders. Either divide them by age of your child or by school year.
Personally, I store them according to school years as I find it easiest to figure out which folder to store the various keepsakes within.
On the folders, simply either label with the grade that it represents or customize as you see fit. Attaching photos of your child to the outside to visualize how big they were when they produced the contents is a nice touch.
Legal size file folders are the preferred method as they can accommodate the larger sized keepsakes.
3. How to Store – Electronic
The new age, part 1. Not cluttering your house may be a big deal. Then this is a great solution.
You will need two additional steps. One, get a good scanner or camera to make electronic copies. Two, ensure you have time! Falling behind in this chore will not be fun. It will take a lot of time to properly store.
Similar to the hard copy file folders, simply create electronic folders by school year or age. Within the folder, be as specific as you can with the naming convention. I always prefer to save electronic documents starting with year, month and day (i.e. 2018 06 22).
By using this format, the flow within the folder will always be in a straight forward linear order.
Word of warning, if you do use a personal electronic tracking, be sure to back it up! Having a computer lose its memory would be a terrible thing. So buy a flash drive to keep a redundant copy and keep it in another location.
4. How to Store – Paid Subscription
The newer age, part 2. Very similar to tip number 3 above is the app version.
All you need to do is take an electronic photo of the artwork and upload it to the app. This method completely removes the need for backing up your information.
Unfortunately these apps are not free. Since they have a monthly cost, once you start paying and putting your keepsakes on the app, you are hooked. Unless you keep a personal backup, you may end up still paying money to these apps for years.
5. Create your Own Memories
The most fun way to trigger memories is to remind your children of what they actually thought when they were small.
At the end of each school year, we sit as a family and answer this questionnaire. The questions are easy and fun for the kids to answer.
Another option is to video tape you asking your kids the questions rather than having them write the answers. Then they will see how they responded at such a young age. Seeing their own mannerisms change throughout the years will add more memories to the keepsakes.
Overall, you do not need to over think the process. As an adult your child will appreciate the effort and time put in by you to collect them along the way.
A great place to start is this keepsake album for recording precious milestones and accomplishments. It allows storage within expandable packets within.