Most adults are curious about their family history, where their grandparents or great grandparents came from, and what happened in their lives. Your children may actually be more interested in your family history than you imagine as well. Kids long for a sense of belonging and learning about shared family history can contribute to that.
Whether you know a lot or very little about your family history, here are some activities that you and your child can do together to learn more.
With a modern phone or a tape recorder your child can play reporter and interview relatives about their memories. Of course this works best with older relatives. Your child can ask about that person’s childhood, brothers and sisters, what has changed over time, and even for advice. If your family doesn’t have any readily available grandparents, you can always interview an older friend.
Before the interview, help your child prepare questions and learn some basics about grandpa or grandma. There are also websites with helpful suggestions about what questions to ask. Your child will learn a lot about the person you are interviewing and about the era they grew up in, and how his grandparent faced similar troubles and difficulties that he faces today.
Make a Family Tree
Try making a family tree with your child. It starts off easy, with your children and you, but you will see it soon gets complicated with more and more family members on both sides. You may even have to ask for help from your parents or aunts and uncles. How far back can you go?
With a little research, you can find out a lot about the people in the tree. What kinds of jobs they had and where they came from. As you research, try to find pictures of ancestors. Do they look like you or your child? Pull out a map and look for where they lived. You may even be able to show where you used to live. If it is not too far away, you may be able to visit the old neighborhood or drive by the old house.
Learning about the Old Country
The farther you go back into your family history, or perhaps you don’t need to go far back at all, you will start to discover that some of your family members originated in other countries. Try to learn about those countries. Maybe cook some popular food from those countries or learn a few words in that country’s language. If you are feeling more ambitious, learn a song or folk dance from that country.
Try to imagine what it was like for your ancestor living there at that time. What was the political situation? Why did they leave? Were they rich or poor? Answering these questions can help you paint a picture of what life may have been like for your ancestor.
Pull out Family Heirlooms and Old Clothes
One of the best ways to learn about family history is to touch it. Pull out old clothes and heirlooms and allow your children to take some time to really look at them or try them on. Don’t be surprised if your tweens and teens want to take your old clothes though!
Talk about who owned the items originally and what it was like back then. If it is your grandfather’s watch, you can tell stories about how you remember your grandfather and his watch. Talk about how he used it and how you felt when you saw it on him. Do you have an old picture of him wearing it?
How you can teach your Kids about Family History
Adults and children are interested in learning about their family histories. Follow these tips to introduce your child to your family history today.