How do you capture memories of life with your little ones? Some people keep scrapbooks or photo albums. Others use a video camera to record important family events. My Instagram account and this blog are essentially my love letters to my littles about how much I love watching them grow up right before my very eyes.
But what about their memories?
Little Boy and Little Girl enjoy looking back at photos from our outings and talking about how much fun we had. They particularly get a kick of watching videos of themselves as babies and laughing at the funny things they were doing. Interestingly, however, they will sometimes point a detail that I would normally overlooked or remind me of something about the captured moment that I hadn’t noticed or had even forgotten. This made me realize that at the precious ages of 4 and 2 ½, my two littles have perspectives and memories of their own. In effort to capture the sweet innocence of those memories, I recently decided to encourage them to keep a journal. Although this is a relatively new project for us, I can already tell this will be something we will enjoy for a long time to come.
Here is how we do it:
Giving credit where it is due, I must share that I originally got this idea from a Speech Language Pathologist. This strategy is intended to help children build confidence and expand their language use by encouraging them to talk about recent and familiar experiences. Because children are more likely to talk about topics they enjoy, the journal helps them do that with visual cues. This idea is particularly effective with children who struggle with expressive language or have anxiety related to social interactions and conversations. I, however, believe that this strategy is great for use with all children regardless of where they are in their language development.
First… Find a notebook with blank pages.
Next… Gather materials for decorating the cover: stickers, crayons, markers, glitter – anything you want to use!
I recommend letting your child decorate the cover in a way that is personal to them. My son was fine with simple foam letter stickers. He was so proud to spell his name on his own! Over time, I plan to let him add to it with different stickers or other materials.
Then… Take pictures of family outings and fun adventures. Print them out and add them to your journal.
Photos can be of something as simple as going the grocery store or a visit to the zoo. The point of the journal is really about getting your child to talk about their experiences and memories. So, don’t stress out thinking that you need to plan an extravagant vacation in order for your child to have cool memories for their journal. Besides, I’d be willing to bet that some of their best memories will be from times spent doing something special on a normal day.
Finally… Ask your child to describe the photos. Don’t interject – you might be surprised by what they share with you! Then, write down their descriptions exactly how they say them. Don’t worry about whether their grammar or pronunciation is perfect. Write it how it flows naturally from them. When you look back through their journal over time, you’ll be able to remember how cute they sounded (and how much progress they’ve made)!
- Perhaps the most obvious – it’s a great way to keep track of fun memories
- It encourages language and confident self-expression
- A journal allows children to take ownership of something and can give them a sense of accomplishment with each entry
- It is an opportunity to model good writing
- If your little one is having a bad day or sad moment, looking back on pleasant memories can help lift their mood and give them something positive to reflect on.
- Journals also encourage turning pages from left to right and holding a writing utensil properly (pincer grasp)
- Let your child be the photographer! What better way to capture life from their perspective than to let them take picture from their point of view? Add their photos to their journal and ask them what they liked about the photo or what they were thinking about while they were taking it.
- Let them do the writing! They may not be able to write whole captions for their photos, but having little samples of their writing would be a great addition to their journal.
- Add more than just photos. Leaves from a walk in a park, ticket stubs from special events, or even a wrapper from a new favorite snack can make great additions to journals!
- Revisit previous pages. It can be fun to revisit previous pages months after you’ve captioned the photos. This is a great opportunity to add in anything additional that your little one remembers about that day! (Don’t forget to write in the date!)
- Do you have more than one child? Are you expecting a new baby? Try creating a SIBLING journal. Let each child add memories and pictures throughout the pages. Then, as more siblings are added to the family you’ll be able to see how your children have changed and grown up together.
Do you have a fun way to keep memories of your littles? Can you think of another interesting way to use a journal with your preschooler? I’d love to read about it in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!