Sorting and Storing Your Child's Artwork

How to sort and store the fragile tokens of youth (without hurting anyone's feelings).

  • S. Jhoanna Robledo

You love your kid's art―you really do. But when the school floods your home with a deluge of drawings at this time of year, you can easily feel overwhelmed. Pint-size Pollock or not, your child needs you to celebrate her artistic endeavors. This will send a clear message that you're proud of your child, which boosts her self-esteem. But what do you do with all the art? Here's a system to help you sort, save, and surrender your child's artwork.


Hang It

One of the most basic things you can do to save time and little egos is to establish a mini-museum now. As fresh pieces trickle in from school, take down older installations that your child has grown less attached to. Try stringing a clothesline across your child's room or the playroom and hanging art from clothespins. Rotation is easy, the clothesline isn't permanent, and clothespins won't damage the artwork with holes. 


Sort It

  • Plan to winnow at the end of the school year, or more often if you have more children. Until then keep art that's not on display in a portfolio.  
  • Keep handy an oversize portfolio, mailing tubes and labels, your address book, a pen, a marker, and a wastebasket.  
  • Clear away clutter and dust from the area you're working in.  
  • Make four piles: one for display, one for storage, one to send, and one for the trash.
Pile No. 1: To be framed
The best way to show your child how much you appreciate her art is to choose one or two of your favorite pieces over the years, have them professionally framed, and display them as you would purchased art. Give your child's art pride of placement in a busy part of your home. "When I was a kid, I was proud of artwork that my mother had framed," says Adam Gould, a Brooklyn painter. "I knew what I created was special."

Pile No. 2: To be stored
Keep pieces your child is proud of and pieces that represent milestones, such as her first collage. If she drew only sharks for a time, choose the best few. Then put the pile you've selected into the portfolio and label it in marker with her name and the year. Add to the portfolio until it's full, then write on the end year. Portfolios, sold at art-supply stores and at dickblick.com, can be stashed in a closet or under a bed.

Pile No. 3: To be mailed
Decide with your child whom to send the art to (grandparents, godparents, former baby-sitters, doting friends), and address the mailing tubes right away. Meanwhile, to make the piece more personal, have your child write her name or a brief note on the back of the piece. The recipient will be happy to get an unexpected package and a sample of your child's work.

Pile No. 4: To disappear
Most of what's in this pile can go straight into the wastebasket, but consider using some of the colorful pieces for wrapping paper. You don't have to be discreet about throwing this pile away if your child has been involved all along. Remember: Be a good role model. By winnowing your own stuff on a regular basis, you cultivate the idea that there are things you hold on to and things you let go of.