Getting started with Life Story work
The Life Story Book is for the child. Talk with them about things they want to record and for children who are not able to tell you what they want, think about what they would like to read about in later life. Think about what you have kept for your own children and the memories you have of your childhood. Life Story books help children connect with their history, family and culture, celebrate their achievements, maintain their identity, and put past experiences in context.
When a child comes into your care, you will be provided with as much information as possible. If there are gaps, ask your care team about them, rather than quizzing the child directly. They may be embarrassed if they cannot answer questions.
Having good information will help you get started. For instance, if there is little information available about a child’s infant years, you may be able to research the town where the child was born or significant things that were happening at the time they were born. In this way you will help the child to develop a sense of identity, by answering the basic question, “Where did I come from?”
Remember - the conversation you have with the child is the most valuable part of life story work.
Keeping Life Story work current
Once you have started life story work try to keep adding new and up to date information. Develop a system that works for you and collect information from school, social, sporting, health, development, cultural and family activities and events. Add photographs and items such as awards, drawings, school reports, certificates, birthday cards and artwork.
Spend time with the child, reviewing and selecting the material and deciding how to present it. Emails and SMS messages are used by children as a major form of communication, so you may want to include this information. For example they may receive some traditional cards for their birthday, an e-card and some SMS messages. Making a note of this will help the child remember that they were contacted as they may delete these messages. This does not mean you have to see the messages just that you help them to note down that their older sibling for example did contact them.