During the summer, many of us travel to visit friends and family far away. And for many of us, this means we’re reconnecting with members of our family we haven’t seen in a while. For the wee ones, a family reunion is just a room full of strangers. Strangers who all want desperately to be remembered by your little darling, no less.
Let’s face it, the under-five crowd can barely recall what they had for snack in school let alone recognize Aunt Lindsay from last Christmas. Sure, your little princess couldn’t stop talking about playing tea party with her “favorite” aunt for days after her last visit, but that was a while ago. Now, there is no recollection. And if she can’t remember her playful aunt, there’s no way she’s going to remember your great aunt who sat in the corner quietly observing the play.
Stress for you, stress for your kiddo and one disappointed family. Not a recipe for a relaxing vacation.
Avoid Auntie’s disappointment (and your guilt) by creating a family book to remind your kiddo of everyone’s name before the big get together.
Start by gathering photos of family members who will be in attendance (bonus if you snapped a photo last year of the famed tea party). As you design your book, keep your pages simple. Pair family members with a clean, yet cheerful background. Remember, your audience. If the book doesn’t appeal to your kiddo, it will never get looked at and your hard work will be for naught.
Consider your family tree as you organize your photo spreads. This is a great time to also teach your little one about family connections. By grouping family photos by nuclear family units you can use familiar associations to help connect the dots. “Gran-Gran and Grandpa are Pop-Pop’s mommy and daddy, just like we are your mommy and daddy.”
Even if your pre-reader is just practicing her ABCs, go ahead and label everyone in your book by name. As letter practice becomes common place, you can use the book to help with letter recognition. “See Gran-Gran, Grandpa and Grammy all start with the letter ‘G.’”
When you “read” the family book with your kiddo, don’t just read the names, tell a story. “This is Aunt Lindsay, she’s mommy’s sister. Remember last Christmas you had so much fun playing tea party with her…”
The more details you include in the story, the more likely you’ll make an impression. Soon your little reader will be “reading” the stories to herself. And if you’re lucky, when it’s time for the big gathering, even the shyest tot will warm up to your family of strangers quickly.
We’d love to see your vacation books! Send a link of your book to FBFan@picaboo.com with VACATION in the subject line. If we use your book on our blog, we’ll give you $10 in Picabucks!