Exploring the family genealogy with kids is a great way for young people to learn about their history and understand the world. Kids love to hear about their own family history.
Digging into the family tree gives kids a sense of connection within their families, as well as a sense of general history. It also can provide a context for understanding complex issues, such as war and immigration. Exploring genealogy together offers a practical benefit for adults as well.
Getting the next generation curious about family history means there will be someone to take care of family artifacts after you’re gone. An intergenerational connection is critical in order to pass down the story and to keep the family history alive.
Family History provides the opportunity to learn about family members who are living and those who have passed away. Photos, letters, awards, and newspaper articles are often items left behind that tell the story of your ancestors. Sharing and organizing this information can be a lot of fun!
There are many ways in which to integrate genealogy with kids into your homeschool curriculum beginning with the youngest of learners.
- Bring genealogy to life by sharing family stories. Children can relate especially well to others’ childhood tales. Be animated and use a unique voice for each character to increase the entertainment factor.
- Use family photos and other artifacts to enhance your storytelling.
- Learn what your family surname means.
- Attend family reunions whenever possible.
- Tailor a family tree project to your child’s age and interests. Kids can draw, paint or cut out a tree using large sheets of paper. Draw pictures or paste photos on the branches. Together, record family members’ names.
- Learn a few words and phrases in your ancestral language. Consider using your new language when creating your family tree (for example in Norwegian, mother = mor, father = far, sister = søster, etc.).
- Begin to create family group sheets for your relatives.
- Create a timeline either for you or an ancestor.
- Visit ancestral homesites if possible. We were blessed with that opportunity in 2011 – Read about it here, Scandinavia – Day 12.
- Encourage young people to preserve family stories by videotaping a relative’s oral history. All that is needed is a quiet space, an audio recorder or video camera, a list of questions and a willing subject.
- Expand upon your family tree to include vital facts (birth date, birth place, marriage date and place, death date and place). This is called a pedigree.
- Consider earning a scout badge or cultural skills pin in genealogy.
- Get creative and preserve a family story using an online tool, such as Family History Kids or Ancestry.
- Travel to ancestral homelands if possible.
Is family history important in your family? What are some ways that you have explored genealogy with kids?