For parents and children returning to school this year, September 2020 is unlike any other.
We might have gone out and bought shoes, uniforms, bags and hair clips as usual. We might have made up the usual packed lunch boxes the night before, but that’s about as normal as things got.
Covid-19 has seen our children returning to school with staggered start times and pick up times; alcohol-gel at the classroom doors and lots (and lots and lots) of handwashing throughout the day.
There’s even a handwashing song to make sure they wash their hands thoroughly for a full 3 minutes – and they’re doing it. Even at home!
They no longer get changed for PE in the classrooms, they’re playing with their friends in bubbles, older children are wearing masks and there are social distancing reminder signs everywhere.
And I think I expected them to need more time to adjust, but they’ve slotted in seamlessly - All of them. As if they’d never been away.
They’ve accepted all of these new measures as perfectly normal. Not one moan or worry. For that we have our teachers to thank (our teachers are angels in disguise).
For me, my four older children have gone off to their various schools and my little one is here home schooling with me.
Regardless of how old your children are, or how you choose to educate, going back to school after the long, restful summer break is quite an exciting time of the year (even under normal circumstances).
Yes, they might have kept in touch with their friends via WhatsApp and yes, they might have attended a few playdates, or played with children close to home, but going back to school is the only time they get to spend all day, every day with their friends.
It’s also the time of year when as parents, we see a big jump forward in their personal growth. When they start to learn and experience new subjects and new ideas. Develop new interests.
They get a little older and change a little more.
So I like to keep a special record of all this. A record of their school day memories. So that I can mark exactly how they change and grow.
Back To School Memory Books
Journaling and scrapbooking are both wonderful ways to record your child’s school-day memories.
The extra special occasions and all the mundane moments in between.
Journaling, or diary keeping involves writing and doodling in shop-bought notebooks, diaries or dotted bullet journals (Leuchtturm1917, for example).
Whereas. scrapbooking also includes keeping physical mementos - photos, newspaper clippings, school certificates and examples of fantastic pieces of schoolwork, etc. For this, you’ll need a much larger scrapbook with blank pages or a ring binder – I use both.
But like a lot of people, I’m pretty busy. And while this all sounds like a lovely idea, doesn’t it also sound ………………… time consuming?
Well, it doesn’t have to be.
I journal and scrapbook the easy way.
I have diary for my day to day scribbled thoughts and I also have read-made printable memory sheets to make scrapbooking quick and easy.
I print the memory sheets whenever I need them, adapt them for each of my children and then pop them into a ring binder or stick them into a large kraft scrapbook.
At the front of each journal, scrapbook and ring binder, I also include a set of journal prompts - Questions to ask my children at the beginning of each school year. Observations to make, ideas for photos to take and mementos to keep.
Just so I don’t forget.
And so that you can start collecting your own school-day memories, here’s my current list of journal prompts and my own printable back-to-school memory sheets (free download below). Back To School Journal Prompts
My letter to you at the start of the school year. You could include some of the following:
Make a print of my hand and foot with paint or washable ink to see how they grow.
My favourite toys and games
My favourite foods
My least favourite foods
My favourite books or bedtime stories.
My favourite memories from the summer just gone.
What I want to be when I grow up.
All about my Mummy, Daddy, Caregivers.
All about my brothers and sisters.
Year group and class name
Photograph on the first day back at school.
My walk, cycle or drive to school – look out for seasonal changes.
Treasures I collect on my way to school (painted rocks, pine cones, conkers).
How I felt going into a brand-new year.
What my new classroom looks like.
Who do I play with? My best friend(s).
What do I like to play – playground games.
Teachers and classroom assistants
Favourite school dinner or packed lunch.
Least favourite subjects
My favourite part of the school day.
My school reading book and current reading level
A sample of my handwriting (ask them to write their name, a sentence or signature for older children).
School open days – parents reading days,
School concerts, shows and plays – What role did I play. What did my costume look like.
Any other school events – Harvest festival, Easter egg hunt
School dances and discos
Christmas, Easter and Summer fetes.
Professional school photograph (taken at school, or, just take one of your own in uniform).
My proud moments.
School awards, stickers, certificates.
Special pieces of schoolwork or homework.
Special pieces of Artwork.
Tests and exams.
Days off sick.
Afterschool activities and activity leaders.
Extra-curricular awards, stickers, certificates.
Family walks and trips to the park.
Tips and Tricks
If you have no room to keep originals, photograph the original piece or writing, artwork, or sculpture and stick the photographs into your journal or scrapbook. Remember to add a day and date to each.
Look for opportunities to take photos. Walks and trips to the park might seem run-of-the-mill and not very exciting, but you can take some amazing shots if you just snap away as their playing.
Ask your children to walk along a (low) wall, hold hands, throw some autumn leaves, smell some flowers or forage for safe-edibles (under watchful adult supervision). Autumn hedgerows are usually stuffed full of apples, blackberries and rosehips.
Always have your phone or camera handy to capture the unexpected.
If you want to filter your photographs, but the filters on your phone are limited, consider downloading a simple photo editing app like VSCO or A Color Story for a more professional look.
It’s all about seeing the extraordinary in those seemingly mundane moments.