How Much Grade School Artwork Should You Keep?

A reporter who works for the Guardian newspaper in Great Britain was recently asked at a news conference how many of her children’s drawings she keeps, and for how long.

Her response, paraphrased and shortened, is as follows:

First of all, don’t ever think you have to keep everything that your children make from the age of two to the age of eighteen. As Shakespeare said, that way leads to lunacy. And creates a fire hazard. So here’s the thing to do. First of all, let your friends (not your family) look at the items and tell you which ones they would pay to have framed. Those ones are the keepers.

Next, when children are grade school age they tend to bring home tons of pictures and construction paper cutouts and popsicle stick statues, and so on and so forth. The rule of thumb in my house is that everything that comes home gets a week on the refrigerator door. No more and no less. Then it gets put away until it can be fully analyzed by a cadre of trusted art experts (otherwise known as friends from the office or next door neighbors.)

And finally, for heaven’s sake never throw out artwork by a child in any way that risks them seeing it in the trash. Keep some sacks handy to stow away artwork meant for oblivion and take it to work to dispose of. It’ll keep those child therapy bills down . . .