There is a stigma sometimes connected to family history work that it is something you only do when you are past the empty-nester stage and have taken a break from knitting another blanket. This isn’t true. You will miss out on many wonderful things if you heed this stigma. Start doing family history with your children today and you’ll see why family history work is for all ages, stages and backgrounds.
Why Children Need Family History
Doing family history can instill emotional skills such as humility, resilience and empathy. It is also one of the most unifying activities a family can do together.
As you do family history work, your child will realize that they come from the sacrifices of those who have gone before. Nothing we have is really our own. We are building on the ground where others have already poured a foundation. Family History work can also help children see that the world is much bigger and interconnected then where their own two feet are currently planted.
“When you’re a kid, you think you’re the most important, you’re the only person out there, the world revolves around you, and this is just one way to show them no, you are part of this massive world. You are just one link in the chain,” A.J. Jacobs
Sometimes lessons come the hard way as well. We often hear the prideful side of family history when someone proclaims that they are the great-great-great… grandson of a king. However, as you dig into the real stories behind your ancestors, you come to realize that everyone, even that mighty king, is human. You may even have very difficult and troubling details in your family history. But if used well, those hard stories can teach humility and even resilience. On one hand, we can teach our children that everyone makes mistakes. They aren’t alone when they fall short. On the other hand, we can teach our children to strive to do better than generations before. We can teach them to use history to progress rather than repeat.
Family History also gives children great identity. When they realize they are apart of a grand story beyond themselves, they feel that they can do more than they could on their own. They are part of a team. Stories from their “team” are also great motivators (“If my great grandpa could walk a thousand miles to deliver a letter, I can go a little farther”).
So let’s go a little farther than we have before, and find a way to get our children a little more involved in family history work today.
Ideas for Teaching Your Children Family History
- Tell them stories about family names. Are they named after someone? What does their last name mean?
- Look through scrapbooks together
- Fill out a family tree together. (Print these ones out for FREE: Family Tree Names or Family Tree Photos)
- Read through your journal with them and/or help them start their own
- Decorate with family history by putting up photos of ancestors or meaningful family history quotes (Such as this FREE printable one: Genealogy Quote)
- Do actual genealogy work to fill in missing links in your family tree
- Make a family coat of arms describing what matters to your family (Use this FREE blank one: FamilyCoatofArms)
- Study the history of the countries your ancestors are from
- Study the religions of your ancestors
- Visit the towns or places where your ancestors lived
- Take a family photo together and search for ancestors family photos
- Help them interview their grandparents or other living relatives
- Talk about important dates in your family (such as anniversaries)
- Help us build our memory-preservation product Quilted Memoir™ by Beta testing or giving your feedback. (visit QuiltedMemoir.com to learn more).