Treasures or Trash: Schoolwork Storage

School is back in session and it has been so heart-warming to see so many kids excited to be entering their school halls. I think we all appreciate our school buildings, amazing educators, and human connection more than in years past. I have always been very sentimental and this makes tossing school work, especially artwork, difficult. Even if we only had one child, it isn’t possible to keep every worksheet, math drill, and project. How do we determine what to keep or to throw out?

I have an imperfect system, but it helps me organize the madness of school papers. When the boys come home, I glance through their “keep at home” papers to see how my boys are progressing and if there are any areas that need more attention. The boys then take their papers and put them in a drawer in my office. Papers from church and crafts at home also go into this drawer. Even if we will not keep the paper long term, placing it in the drawer provides my boys confidence that their work is important and peace that it has not been deemed trash. I have learned from their disappointment in the past when they have wanted to look over a previous worksheet or craft that I had already discarded. temporary home for their work creates a little margin for all of us to enjoy their accomplishment and avoid hurt feelings.

Previously, at the end of each semester of school I would go through this drawer and divide the papers into piles for each boy. This year I might have to go through the drawer quarterly since Littlest Mister joined his brothers in school. Once the papers are sorted into piles, I go through and choose what to keep and what to trash. I have on plastic folder for each boy for each semester. Whatever is kept must fit inside this folder, with the exception of larger art projects. I try to keep examples of their knowledge base and handwriting at the start and end of each semester to show their improvement. Several of the worksheets in our school’s curriculum (mainly Abeka) include spaces for the student to draw an example of what they are learning. For example: draw five frogs, draw a picture of your favorite outdoor activity, draw what you want to do when you grow up. I keep more personalized pieces like this or particularly skillful or silly drawings. I want these folders to tell the story of who my child was during this school year.

Once their folder is complete, I label the folder and place it in a plastic file box for that child. There are so many great options for file storage, but as our family may be uprooted and travel cross country or even internationally, I wanted a sturdier option to house these keepsakes. I label the front of the box with the child’s name and the years/grades included inside. The file boxes are then stored where they remain out of the way but are easily accessible.

So that is my organizational system for school work. As I prepared for the new school year, I thought about all the other treasures and trash in our lives, specifically mentally. Living in the Information Age can be both a blessing and a curse. While it is beneficial to have access to the knowledge and wisdom of others, there is also so much useless garbage that takes up space in our minds. I enjoy social media as a tool to stay up to date on the lives of my family and friends, but we are all familiar with the negativity present on those pages. Scrolling through my feed will bring joy at a friend’s exciting life update, then grief with the latest news bulletin, followed by disgust at the comment section. The mixture of those emotions causes unrest in my spirit and that often spills into my daily life. How do I separate the treasures from the trash?

Many people choose to avoid social media entirely. Some people choose to take social media fasts periodically. I see the benefit of both of these strategies, however, for me social media is a doorway to long distance relationships that are otherwise difficult to maintain. Social media allows for me to celebrate triumphs and mourn losses with friends and family. So I determine to remain active with boundaries. First Corinthians 6:11-12 says, “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.” I choose to use social media and I purpose to not allow it to dominate my mind.

One of the greatest updates to many social media platforms was the “unfollow” option. I care about so many on my friends list, but I do not always care about every post they make. The past couple years have brought out the keyboard warrior in even the most well-meaning. Whether I agree or disagree with a post, sometimes the tone of the post or the volume of similar posts fosters a negative attitude in me. So a “snooze” or “unfollow” creates a little pocket of peace in my mind. I have no interest in “un-friending” people on platforms or in person, but I do need to protect my heart and mind. “The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless” (Titus 3:8-9). Of course, we cannot remove all “unprofitable” posts from our feeds, so what do we do when we see something that causes conflict?

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways” (Psalm 119:37). We turn our eyes away from worthless things, and turn our eyes upon Jesus! In order to fill my mind with truth and restore my mindset, I have Scripture and hymn art* all around my house. I place it in areas where my eyes constantly glance because “we become what we behold” (Ruth Chou Simons). When I reach for a pen next to my framed print reading “Be Thou My Vision”, I begin to hum that tune and my mind cannot simultaneously dwell on negativity. When I sit in my chair and glance at the calendar on my wall or the flip devotional on my side table, my mind rehearses God’s truth and cannot remain focused on the lies of the world. When I grab another cup of coffee or tea, my mug refreshes my attitude. The old adage “out of sight, out of mind” is often untrue. It is not enough to remove negativity on social media from our sight alone. We must replace it with Christ and His truth. So I store up treasures of truth in my heart and mind so that throwing out the mental trash is freeing. 

*mug from The Daily Grace Co.

*calendar and print from Gracelaced Shoppe

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