Too cool for school? Decluttering childhood classroom memories

As children move through the school years from pre-school to university they inevitably amass tons of stuff such as old exercise books, bits of uniform, tokens of friendships and so on. To start with, doting parents keep everything, considering it unimaginable to ever get rid of anything. Yet the years continue to pass and the pile of souvenirs grows larger and larger. Especially if you have more than one child, or have the school possessions of yourself, your partner or your parents to contend with on top.

Here are some ideas to help reduce the piles of clutter without spoiling the memories.

Arts and crafts

Children produce seemingly endless pictures, collages, models and creations, all of which you are entreated to treasure for ever. Keeping everything can soon overwhelm even the most organised storage system. One solution is to choose, say, the five most precious pieces of art to keep. Recycle or use the rest to make greetings cards, but not before photographing or scanning them into a computer. These photos or scans can then be put into albums to enjoy or printed out in a smaller size to display more neatly than would be possible with the original artworks.

Essays and exercise books

It can be fascinating to chart see the progress of your own or your child’s endeavours in English, Maths or History over many years, but keeping every single piece of work will quickly lead to too much clutter. Again, choose the best examples of work to keep and ditch the rest, perhaps photographing anything that you think you will want a reminder of in the future. The beauty of decluttering school work is that it is mostly paper-based and is simple to recycle quickly and conveniently.

Prizes and certificates

These are normally more important to keep hold of, and will contain more special memories of success. If you have lots of certificates form your school days, or your children’s, consider filing them in a folder to keep them safe and flat. You may also like to scan them into a computer to make sure they are always on hand if you need to prove qualifications or want to look at them again. If you no longer want a prize, consider asking the school or awarding organisation in question to see if they want to have it for their alumni archives, library or display.

Uniform and clothing

Parting with a child’s school blazer, prefect tie or university scarf can be hard, and again, care must be taken not to act too harshly to get rid of things you may regret later. Ask your children if they want you to save items for them, for when they move out and never get rid of their precious memories without consulting them first. Consider framing items of clothing that you cannot bear to give away, or ask a seamstress to use them to make up a patchwork quilt or teddy bear.

Otherwise, check if there is a second-hand uniform sale that you can donate unwanted clothing too, or check out local charity shops or jumble sales. You might even find that local amateur dramatic companies might welcome the chance to browse through to find costumes and props for school-themed productions.