If you have a child in elementary school, your closets and desk drawers are likely bulging with a variety of artwork, school projects and corrected homework. You may find yourself conflicted between wanting to honor his efforts and not wanting to have your home turn into bric-a-brac central. Here are some ideas to help you restore a clean palette by organizing your children’s crafts and creations.
Tip #1: Categorize the incoming materials. Establish some categories with your child regarding his masterpieces. Some ideas for category names are: “wall-worthy”, “for storage” and “recycle.” After your child has proudly paraded his masterpiece to everyone in your home (and possibly the home next door!), ask him to which category he thinks it belongs. Allow him the freedom to make the choice himself.
Tip #2: Designate specific areas for his art. “Wall-worthy” art can be displayed in any way you wish. You may have a hallway that you can use as a sort of gallery to show off your child’s favorite art. Make signs for underneath that indicate your child’s name and age or grade when it was completed. Alternatively, you can mark off one section of a large wall with painters’ tape (it comes in colors other than blue) to create a frame. Or you could opt for the classic location: the refrigerator. This will contain the volume of items that can be displayed at one time. The art designated for storage can be kept in under-bed storage boxes. They are perfect for those over-sized projects and under the bed is a great place to store them. Projects of the three dimensional variety can be displayed on a shelf specifically earmarked for this purpose. A small sign such as “Sally’s Gallery” would bring a smile to any budding artist.
Tip #3: Teach your child to edit. Once these designated areas become full, your child will have to make some choices about what to keep, what to store and what to “recycle.” If he brings something home from school and wants it displayed on the wall and there is no room, he must decide if it is time for another piece to move to the storage box or the recycle bin. Have your child edit the work contained in his storage box at the end of the summer when he has less of an attachment to his creations. For the child who has a hard time parting with anything, talk with him about the possibility of giving the overflow to family and friends as gifts.
When your child brings home his next art project, craft or painting, take a moment, sit down with him and appreciate together what he has done. Remember to comment on his effort or some detail of the piece when you are admiring it. Avoid comments like, “good job” and “very nice.” You want to encourage your child to take pride in his work based on what he has done and the effort he has put forth rather than how you feel about it. These tips will help you both contain and enjoy the artwork of your little Picasso.