Your First Decade – Ages 0-9

Chalk outline of numbered hopscotch boxes on pavement starting with number one.

Begin your life story at square one – your first decade of life.

By Maureen Santini© Copyright 2018-2019. All Rights Reserved.

Ready to begin writing your life story? Let’s get started. Not sold yet? Consider the reasons why you should write your story.  

Take out a piece of paper, pick up your favorite pen or pencil and let your earliest memories surface. Your first decade covers the time from your birth through age nine. Connect each of these years with a calendar year. The first year would be the year of your birth, such as 1950. Your second year would be 1951 and so forth.

Write what you remember. If memory disappoints, review scrapbooks and consult relatives about events and activities during each year.

Infancy

Begin by writing down everything you know about the day you were born: your full name at birth, the name of the hospital or birth place, the date and time of birth, the city and state, the names of your parents.

Fill in basic blanks: birth weight, color of hair and eyes, birthmarks, nationality, citizenship, parents’ citizenship, birth order, names and ages of siblings, religion, street address and type of residence. Were you were named after anyone?

If you were baptized, record the place, date, and names of your sponsors.

Write down everything you know about your infancy, including general development, physical characteristics, health and personality. Were you average, ahead or behind on most measures of development? When did you begin crawling, walking, talking? Who had the most responsibility for your daily care and upbringing?

Preschool and Kindergarten

If you went to preschool and/or kindergarten, write down as much as you remember. Most children are four, five or six during these years. For each year, write the basics first: name of the school, city and state of the school, names of your teachers and playmates, favorite activities and toys.

Delve into types of events that stand out: family events such as birthdays and holiday celebrations, civic events such as parades, school events such as holiday plays and sports contests. Write about anything you recall such as favorite toys, parties, games, pets, clothes, movies and television programs, hobbies, music, and relationships with siblings, parents, caregivers and others.

Who did you spend most of your time with? What did you spend most of your time doing?  

Grades One through Four

Children typically are six or seven in first grade, seven or eight in second grade, eight or nine in third grade, and nine or 10 in fourth grade. 

For each grade write the name and place of school, name of teacher and favorite classmates, favorite subjects and extracurricular activities. Mention your main activities such as bike riding, skating, playing with dolls, sewing, video games, baking, singing or dancing, drawing, and sports.

Capture as many highlights as you can for each year, such as a family move, a new sibling or a new pet. Did you learn to ride a bike or play a particular game? Did you suddenly realize you were pretty good at baseball or swimming or class work?  

Which areas of study did you particularly like and find relatively easy and which areas did you find difficult? Describe how you got to school – walking, driving, school bus. Mention achievements and challenges.

What was your role at home during this time? Did you help with cooking or other chores? Did you serve as a babysitter for siblings or neighbors? Did you earn an allowance or have a job such as paper route or mowing lawns? Which activities did you enjoy with your mother, your father, your siblings, your grandparents, and other relatives?

Write about careers you envisioned as a young child. Talk especially about activities and people – children and adults – that occupied the majority of your time and interest.

Outside Events

Write about when and how you became aware of national or world events. What triggered your awareness? A relative going off to war? An international crisis? School drills? Elections? If you lived through particularly interesting times, be sure to write down your memories and impressions. Mention any new acquisitions that changed life in your family such as the purchase of a television or car. 

Family Life

Write about your family life during your first decade. How would you describe it? Record your parents’ occupations, the birth of siblings, your relationship with extended family members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Talk about special events and challenging times.

Recall specific milestones such as a new bicycle, a family trip or a family move to a new location. Describe your family’s traditions and activities on weekends and major holidays, such as Christmas and Easter.

Write about both positive and negative events and influences as honestly as possible. Everyone experiences times of disappointment and tragedy. You may find that going beyond the facts and filling in personal details will give your story depth and authenticity.

Some of you will complete this chapter in short order. Others may take longer. The number of pages you write doesn’t matter at this point. If you recall more details in the days ahead, add to the chapter as memories occur. 

Tell us your thoughts about the process so far. Easier and faster than expected? Start thinking about your second decade, the next chapter.  

Since our mission is to convince as many people as possible to write their life stories, we would be grateful if you would share these posts on social media and with your friends and relatives.  

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