I read recently that the single most important thing you can do for your family is to develop a strong family narrative. Probably food and warmth is the MOST important thing but I agree that children who know a lot about their families probably do better when faced with challenges throughout their lives. So I got my thinking cap on and decided to explore a number of different activities that would help Small to know more about his relations. One of the things that stands out about our family is that we’re pretty spread out across the UK and Europe. So I thought the first step really was just to know where everyone is and then talk about some of the culture and heritage that come from those places. I think this activity would also work if our family lived closer. We might have chosen a more local map but we would still be able to talk about all the culture and heritage of where we live and what what means for our family.
What you’ll need
- A map (We’ve gone for the UK now and will add in Europe later)
- Photos of your family
- Blue tack or pins if your using a cork board
- Stick your map on the wall in a really accessible place. We chose low down on a kitchen wall
- Look through your family photos and choose your favourites
- Cut out happy smiling faces
- Find homes for your faces and stick them on the map
- Move them around if you fancy and explore the other places on your map (We love putting everyone in the sea!)
The Geography of Me has been so much fun to do with Small. It’s just great to flick through photos and talk about the people that love us most. Using a map helps us to visualise where everyone is. Small’s Dad often works away and we can move him around the country which is the difference between ‘gone’ and ‘right there’. That is a massive shift in the mind of a three year old.
Knowing our family geography helps a lot with emotional resilience and self esteem. It’s so great to be able to say ‘here are the people that really care about me’. We’ve also started trying to answer some of the questions from the “Do you know?” scale which is a useful tool for sharing family stories. Questions like: Where did Dad grow up? Where did Mummy and Daddy first meet? Where did Grandma go to school? Are all more easily answered with a map to hand. I love that small is beginning to understand that he’s part of something bigger than himself, he is part of a family, and you can’t get better than that.