For having just turned 5, my son has already had to say ‘goodbye’ to many different friends from around the world. We moved to Texas from Germany last year, and he had already graduated from a Krippe (12 month – 3 year old daycare program) to a Kita (age 3 years through 6 years), he had been enrolled in a year-long extra curricular art class with 8 children for a year at age 4, and he had also made 3 ‘best friends’ in our expat neighborhood community.
We said goodbye to all of them in January of 2016 to start a new adventure in America. I wanted to make sure that although he might not remember them due to his young age when we moved, that he would always have a record of their names and faces, and what activities they loved to do together. So that whether we move around again or not, he could collect memories and photos of the people and places that he loved the most.
As we approach the end of the school year and my son is now graduating with 15 other children in his Pre-K class, I think again about memories- how to keep them and continue to remember the beloved school and his friends who will be moving on to kindergartens throughout the greater Dallas area.
German school children have a tradition where close to the end of each school year, they begin to pass around a “Freundebuch” – or, friendship book to their classmates. It is taken home by students one at a time to be filled in with notes to the book’s owner- what their favorite activities together were, where they met, how they will remember each other. For young kids, it’s mostly a coloring book (many times with latest Disney movie characters adorning the cover pages) with space for gluing down a school picture, spelling their name, and writing one or two favorite foods or activities.
For children who are about to graduate — whether it’s from the infant room to the toddlers, the toddlers into the PreK, or those saying goodbye to a place they’ve known for 3-4 years and venturing off to Kindergarten at a brand new school — here are a few keepsake ideas of how to remember our children’s ‘best friends’ from dance class, preschool, soccer, and more.
There are two types of books here: one a short version of a friendship book with empty pages to pass around to each child in the class or team or extracurricular.
1. Fay’s & Finlay’s Fabulous Friendship Book (Amazon)
Fay’s and Finlay’s Fabulous Friendship Book is no longer in print, but can still be found on Amazon. Up to twenty friends can answer fun questions about themselves through drawings or words.
2. My creation is called Toddler Tales: My Very Special Book of Memories and Friendship which I wrote and designed with my sister in law for this exact purpose. It’s the ‘post-baby-book-record-and-memory-book’ where you can glue in artwork, describe your child’s favorite trip to the zoo, record their toddler milestones (when they knew their ABCs, when they could write their name), favorite foods, not-so-favorite foods, and of course- with a section for 8 special friends to be traded and filled in with pictures and memories.
Here are some great ideas about how to take photos of your children’s friends and frame a picture on their wall that they won’t forget.
1. Career Collage class picture and the Warhol-esque print would look great on any wall!
2. DIY Artwork! Try to avoid actual handprints on newly painted walls, but a great activity to get best friends together is to make 3, 4, 5 or more ‘copies’ of the same type of artwork that each friend can take home and frame. Handprints with paint Handprints with clay, Handprints on pottery (You can change text to Best FRIENDS.) These all look great in kid bedrooms, playrooms, and whether the BFF playdates continue or not- they are great reminders of fun times as toddlers!
For all of those parents of toddlers or preschoolers moving onward and upward- new schools, new friends, new classrooms – enjoy looking forward, but don’t forget to keep just a small piece of the past as well!
Happy graduation to the littles!