We all have those places in our house where we store our kid's artwork, school projects, certificates, awards, and school photos. For some it's the kitchen bench, for others, it's a corner of the home office or laundry. If you are anything like me, the pile is a vast wasteland waiting for that magical day where inspiration hits and I organise it into neat piles of school memories. The thing is, while you get a huge endorphin rush when you tidy that sucker up there is a more important reason to sort through memories and store them in a way that is easy for your kids to reference.
A few years ago I stumbled across a piece of research that suggested children experience healthier adolescent years when parents arm them with stories from their younger years. Kids who hear stories about their childhood develop a deeply held sense of belonging that acts as an anchor during difficult times. More than that, through reminiscing, children develop higher self-esteem, more robust identities, and better-coping skills. Who knew?
Taking a trip down memory lane with school memorabilia is an excellent way to connect with your child and strengthen them. The physical connection to their past can have a powerful effect as they feel their history come to life in their hands. The dried paint of a piece of artwork, or the wobbly writing of a report they wrote on dinosaurs, etc. This connection reminds them of where they have come from, of what they have achieved, of who they are and always have been. It is a vital piece of the storytelling process, and it is a huge amount of fun too.
My 13-year old son and I recently went through his My School Memories Album and had a field day laughing over old stories, comparing his drawings from then to now and reading his list of favourite things. It was great, and it may have been my imagination, but when he started back at school the following day, he seemed taller, surer of himself.
So here is my tip from one parent to another, don't let those piles of school papers, awards and projects pile up so much that the easiest thing to do is throw them out. Set aside an afternoon and sort through it. Not only will you feel good about clearing the mess (oh-the-joy!) but it will help your child develop a sense of belonging and strength in their teen years. It's as easy as purchasing a My School Memories Album and selecting a handful of items that spark joy and demonstrate achievement. Slip these items into the Year Level Page Pocket included in the album, attach a school photo and sit with your child to fill in the list of favourite things.
Done! Mess cleared, stories told, silent parent high-five awarded!