Do you wish that your children or grandchildren were more interested in their family history?
Most children have little interest when they're young. While growing up, children are often surrounded by family and exposed to information about their relatives. As they get older, they begin to think about those relationships. Over time, they begin to develop a natural curiosity as to who they are and where they come from.
But how can we speed up the process?
Here are five creative tips on how to help the younger generations develop an interest in their family history:
Share stories about the family. Stories are a great way to get children interested in learning more about their ancestors. Tell a story about a funny aunt, a brave cousin or a grandparent's groundbreaking achievement. Make history fun and interesting. And remember, it doesn't hurt to exaggerate a bit, if that's what's needed to increase their curiosity.
2. Create a visual
Encourage your child to create a fact sheet about their family. Getting the child's interest is usually the hardest part, so turn the whole process into a challenge. Give the child some family history tips and encourage them to enlist the help of a sibling, a cousin or another relative. The key here is process, not results. It's nice to have produced something but the real success is making the work fun. In this category, parents can also help children create a puppet family; make people-shaped cookies; draw pictures of a favorite holiday or food, and show their family celebrating the holiday; or draw the family house or their grandparents' home.
3. Create a game
Children learn a tremendous amount through play. Explain that creating a family tree is like doing a puzzle, but one to which you can keep adding pieces. Draw/print your family tree and cut out the names. Ask the child to put their relatives back on the tree - in the right place, of course.
4. Online research
Show them your family tree on MyHeritage's website. Okay, we're a little biased here, but children today are part of the connected generation. For them, the Internet, cell phones and other electronic devices are a natural part of life; they cannot remember a time before the digital age. MyHeritage.com enables people to explore different research tools and share information about their relatives. Also, we have all those fun features like the Look-alike Meter or our mobile application, which could keep you both entertained for hours!
5. Additional Resources
Here are three good sites for involving children in family history:
- FamilyTreeKids - from Family Tree Magazine - offers great suggestions on projects, activities and resources.
- The New York Historical Association offers resources, including ideas for projects, programs and resources.
- Parents' Choice for an excellent article on preserving your family's history, complete with great activities, workbooks and story books (including various ethnic origins) for children.
What successful ideas have you used? Do you have tips to suggest? Share them in the comments section below.