What is your earliest memory? How old were you?
My earliest memories are of living on my grandfather’s farm in Baden, Maryland. My parents, my sister, and I moved there after my father finished his stint in the Air Force; I was about three. I remember a lot about living there, including standing on what I thought was a GIGANTIC hill and yelling so I could hear my voice echo, being scared of the black dog that chased our car every time we drove down the lane, and using a potty chair because the two-story wooden-framed house had no indoor plumbing. (I visited the farm recently and discovered the GIGANTIC hill, wasn’t gigantic at all. In fact, it barely qualifies as a mound of dirt!)
According to researchers, I have more memories from that age than most. They say although children form memories in childhood, they often forget them quickly. Most children remember almost nothing from before the age of three and very little from before the age of seven.
As a grandmother of six adorable children, ages 7 and younger, that makes me sad. I want to believe my grandchildren will remember the fun times we have shared. Fortunately, experts say there are things you can do to help your grandchildren remember your taking them places and the good times you shared. The key is to reinforce the emotions before, during, and after the event.
Visiting an alpaca farm
I took the children to two alpaca farms. Before we went, we looked online for alpacas. We found out their country of origin, how long they have been in the United States, how their fleece is used, the difference between the two breeds, and how to pronounce the names.
Once we were there, the children touched the alpacas and watched them play. The owner showed them fleece he had clipped, and the second farm owner showed the children how she weaves the fiber and the products she has made. I took lots of pictures!
On both trips home, we talked about the sounds the alpacas made, what their poop looks like, and how that differs from horse poop. Poop always is a favorite subject!
Once we were back home, the children drew pictures and wrote in their journals. After I picked up the pictures from the photo center, I helped the children attach them in their journals (another time of sparking their memories with conversations).
Revisit your adventures
We talk about our adventures a lot. I often ask, “Remember when we….?” We take their journals out from time-to-time and reminisce about the places we’ve gone and the fun adventures we’ve shared. That is the secret to cementing memories into a child’s long-term memory ─ repeated exposure to an event using pictures, feeling words, and a child’s five senses. We have lots of fun!
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