School is out for summer. Ya-hoo! On the downside, summer vacation means that all of the papers, projects, and books that lived in your child’s desk or locker are now taking up residence in your home. And while it’s good to give your child a break from thinking about school, addressing the stack of school stuff soon will be easier than at some undetermined point in the future. Why? The more we put off an activity the less rewarding it becomes. And speaking of rewards, it will be easier to sift through the stack if there is some sort of reward for completing the activity. Sure you can head over to Ted Drewes after the deed is done, but how about building in some ways to make the process more enjoyable?
- Be calm, supportive and positive. Your attitude will set the stage for how well the process goes. If your child perceives criticism, the process will quickly spiral in a negative direction. Declare “no battles” from the start. Eliminate the word “should” from the discussion. Promise yourself that you will take note of things that concern you rather than react to them in the moment. Address these items at an agreed upon time in the future. As a parent, I realize it can be challenging sometimes not to react. Take deep breaths and do the best you can.
- Time frame the activity. Set up an appointment with your child to go through the school items. Give her a few days notice. Make sure that you provide a start time and a finish time. Knowing that an activity will end will make it for more agreeable than one that may be perceived as lasting “forever.” It may take thirty minutes to an hour to go through everything. If you don’t finish, ask your child if she would rather continue or make another appointment to finish the work.
- Consider the process a type of “treasure hunt.” Ask your child to extract the stuff he’s proud of. Get the background story: what makes these items special? Acknowledging your child’s pride and reinforcing it by displaying the items make the process more enjoyable for all. Look for ways to celebrate the year.
- Be selective about what is kept. It is fine to keep a few things that showcase your child’s uniqueness, interests and abilities at this age; however, if everything is special than nothing is special. Do the math: if you keep twenty items every year from nursery school through high school, you will have a collection of over 260 items. Will reviewing 260 items be an enjoyable or overwhelming activity in the future? A tip for the three-dimensional things: take a picture of your child holding it so the item does not have to be kept.
At the end of the review session, thank your child for his assistance. It’s a good time to point out some of the benefits of finishing the task:
- There’s closure to the school year,
- You got to spend some time getting to know your child better,
- You’ve gotten rid of clutter, and
- Insert your own special reason here.
Find out if your child has anything to add. For the parent this is a good time to take pride in how well you modeled some organizing skills and supportive behavior. Take a moment to bask in the positive results of the end of school year review. Then, by all means, indulge in a little frozen custard.