Children's Papers and Books.
I don’t know about other people’s children, but mine seem to breed these in their rooms; there are frequently piles of books on nightstands and desks, and papers shoved into the cupboards. Once again, remember that when working with children, we are focusing on a long-term goal of them being able to make decisions themselves, so if they are over the age of about 3, please allow them as much autonomy over this process as possible and remember to lead by example, doing your own possessions before tackling theirs. Frankly, there is nothing more irritating that being told what to do by someone who hasn’t done it themselves – I’m sure all the parents here understand how annoying it is to get parenting advice from people who haven’t done it themselves – ditto for organising advice from your child’s point of view.
As always bring all of the category into a pile and get them to go through them one by one. Try to respect their decisions – if they want to discard something that you want to keep, then take that item into your own space rather than keeping it in their space. If you are doing books and they are held jointly, then you can get each child to go through the books one after the other. All our books are held in common and are in the conservatory (which is our school room because I Home Educate my children), so I am always happy to keep books that I want to as well! It is possible to use things like the bookcase as a finite sized container – they can keep whatever books they want, so long as they fit on the shelves they have (again, you must be following this advice elsewhere in your own home with your own possessions before you can comfortably use it with your children).
Papers tends to be much more individual with very little held in common in my home. Again, I try to give my children pretty much total autonomy over what they want to keep, with the proviso that it needs to be able to fit into their desk so as to make it easier for them to clean their rooms. One thing I do remind them of is that the fewer things you have, the easier it is to keep them tidy.
The same goes for papers as for books – they get to choose to keep which drawings and writings they want to keep. If I see an especially sweet one that I want to keep and they don’t, then I take it out of their space.
One thing to think about when working with children is that it is super useful for them to have a space to call their own that is their own responsibility to keep tidy. This doesn’t need to be their own room; it may just be a designated part of a room within a shared room, or a toy chest in a living area. But do try and keep your own belongings out of their space. My youngest daughter has some amazing built in cupboards in her room and, having no loft, we need to utilise this space, so two of the cupboards are “mine” and two of the cupboards are “hers”. She knows she doesn’t need to look into “my” cupboards and I keep my stuff out of hers.