Children's Artwork: Stash Or Trash?

Anyone with school-age children knows that they rarely come home empty-handed. The endless stream of artwork is bound to range from masterpiece to meh. So how do parents deal when they become curators of their kids' projects?Last week Michael Tortorello explored the subject in The New York Times, profiling families and their varied approaches to their childrens' artwork. Storage and display space were major considerations for all, and some parents explained how they looked for qualitative differences to separate the keepers from the recycling. Still, even the most ruthless clutter cutters in the bunch acknowledged that their kids have made some great things to be celebrated and displayed. While I don't keep all of my son's drawings, the thought of a draconian art policy made me a little sad, and I wondered if the parents' storage concerns couldn't be addressed with a little ingenuity and maybe a flat file or a few mailing tubes. Tortorello wrote a companion piece on Ideas for Displaying Children's Art, but the accompanying photos still showed rigorously edited collections. But how does a parent choose, and how can they possibly anticipate which art will be most meaningful to a child in the days, months and years to come?

In our house some decisions are easier than others; the pudding paintings from preschool go straight in the trash (because really, pudding paintings?), but those big rolls of IKEA Mala paper mean more bright and beautiful crayon drawings than I can possibly count or display. For now they are stashed in a corner of our playroom but eventually I will need to decide, like every parent.

What is your strategy? Refrigerator? Hallway gallery? Flat file or mailing tube? Recycling bin?

(Image: Roni Shapira Ben-Yoseph, dinosaur by Roni Shapira, circa 1981)

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