As a genealogist, one of the things you are no doubt concerned with is getting your young children interested in genealogy. After all, you want your genealogy work to be preserved and to continue long after you. Unless you donate all of your research to an archives or historical society, where it may or may not ever be used, you will need to have at least one child in your family who is interested in the work you do and in preserving and continuing it. It’s also a lot of fun to work on the genealogy research with your kids. The best way to get kids interested in genealogy is to start when they are young. Here are five ways to do it.
1. Show Them Family Tree Charts
Print out a family tree chart that starts with your child as the primary person, and show him or her all of the people who came before who contributed to that child being created, and being who they are. Talk about the people on the tree who you know or knew, and tell what ou know about the people you never met. Young children are often fascinated seeing their family history presented in front of them, especially when they can see how they are connected to so many other people going back in time.
2. Take Them to Talk to Older Relatives
Get kids comfortable with talking to older relatives at young ages. Start by having the older relatives tell stories from when they were kids. In other visits that come later, they can share things they did as a child with your child, such as teaching them games they played, crafts they did, recipes they made, and what they learned at school. Kids get more interested in things when they can apply it to their own lives, and realize their older relatives were once kids just like them.
3. Let Them Help
When they are really young, give them family tree chart coloring pages to work on, which little kids love. As they get older, you can have them look up things for you, write things down for you, and more. As they work with you, keep talking to them, telling them about the people you are researching and the times in which they lived. The kids will enjoy the time spent with you and associate it with genealogy research.
4. Take Them on Genealogy Vacations
You’ll need to go “into the field” every now and then as a genealogist. Make it a family vacation, and show your kids the places your ancestors lived. It makes it more real to them, and a vacation is always fun. Associating genealogy with fun is perfect for getting kids interested in learning more, and is one of the best ways to turn them into lifelong genealogists themselves.
5. Look at Old Photos Together
Looking at photos of your ancestors together and sharing what you know about who they were, what they did, and the times in which they lived is interesting for most kids. The photos make the ancestors real and the information more important to them.
Will Moneymaker founded Ancestral Findings back in 1995. He has been involved in genealogy research for over 20 years. The thrill of the hunt, the adventure, and the excitement begin when he started investigating the meaning of his surname. Why I Love Genealogy (And You Should, Too!)