If you have taken it upon yourself to research your family tree, then you should really give some thought to involving… your family. By encouraging the youngest generation of your family to take an interest will add an extra layer to the whole experience. The big question is, how do you get them to enjoy it as much as you?
Fortunately, the same things that worked on children generations ago still work today. It all comes down to making it fun and meaningful for them. Here are some powerful ways you can do just that and get your kids and grandkids to love genealogy as much as you do. They might even be able to help you out with some roadblocks that you have encountered in your genealogical search.
1. Make the family history come alive
History gets a bad name. Mostly because of the way it is taught in school. It’s dull and just a bunch of dates. You should remind your kids that there are some really fun and cool stories from the past that are much more than just the names of kings and queens. You can do the same with your family history. The information that you have gathered so far must have given you some fascinating information on your family members. If you can pull out one of these tales then you will be able to spark an interest in your families history as a whole.
Make it a treat. Once they love the stories, give them history books of the time period in which your tales take place so they can attach the stories to the real world. This makes the stories more personal and meaningful for them, which attaches them to the stories even more. This then turns into a feedback loop that will have them always coming back for more.
2. Take them on trips
If your family is from a particular place in Ireland originally. Why not take a trip there to see it for yourself. The births and deaths are surprisingly well documented and you will be able to access records that are nor available online. As well as the practical advantages of going to where your family began, you will also be giving your children some much-needed context. Suddenly the town in Ireland that you mentioned to them becomes a real place.
With streets, shops, restaurants and homes. You may even be able to find the grave of one of your ancestors. Be warned, this can be an emotional experience, so make sure that you have something a little lighter planned for afterwards.
3. Physical objects connect us to the past
If you have any possessions that belonged to your family members from generations gone by you should show them to your children. Having something tactile that they can hold in their hands will connect them to the past in a way that they had previously not imagined.
4. Do a DNA test
This is something that will get your children really excited. They will be very familiar with how DNA works from TV and movies. The idea that they will be able to see where in the world their family is from is very exciting indeed. It’s also easy to purchase a DNA test online from providers such as CRI Genetics. After taking the test, your children will then be able to boast about it at school. This is a form of social currency that they will enjoy a great deal.
5. Build out a family tree together
Once your children know the family history stories and have connected with them in all kinds of personal ways, fill out a family tree chart with them. Start with the child or children as the beginning people on the tree, then go backward in time as far as you can on the paper or with your knowledge of the family tree. This way, your children will be able to see where they fit into the family, among the people whose stories they know so well.