by Marian Pierre-Louis
As family historians we spend a lot of time researching our family history. It would be nice if the next generations were as interested in family history as we are. Not only do we want them to share our passion for family history but it would be re-assuring to know that they will protect and carry on the research down through the generations.
On Wednesday, December 3, 2014 Devin Ashby will present a webinar called "Family History for Kids" (register here). He'll have some ideas on how you can get the youngsters in your family excited about genealogy.
In the meantime, here are some techniques that three Legacy staff members have used to get their own kids involved in family history:
Michele Simmons Lewis, Technical Support
"Kaitlyn (my now married 21 year old) goes with me to cemeteries and has since she was about eight. She always checks behind me to make sure I don’t make a mistake when I am transcribing markers. She is great with microfilm too. She can whirl through a reel without ever missing a name. She is the only one of my five children that is interested in genealogy."
Marian Pierre-Louis, Social Media Marketing Manager
"I have three boys spread across six years. The age spread means that they are interested in different things at different times. As young children, they spent quite a lot of time with me in cemeteries and historic houses. With two teenagers it's harder to drag them along with me. Now I search for age-specific activities to get them involved. Activities involving computers, cameras and camcorders are always a hit. My old standby, of course, is inserting family stories into any conversation we are having."
Geoff Rasmussen, Legacy developer, host of FamilyTreeWebinars.com
"Having met my wife in a Family History Center, I had visions of doing genealogy together throughout our lives. Turned out, she was just there for a part-time job to put herself through school. But I have four more chances to get a living relative interested in genealogy - my four descendants! Somehow, my 5-year-old daughter loves doing FamilySearch Indexing with me. Last night she said, "Daddy, can I index with you?" Together we indexed 2 names in a Zimbabwe death notice. At the end, I told her, "you just helped someone find their ancestor!" She smiled, and seemed to understand what that meant.
Somehow my 9-year-old has also taken to Indexing. He loves indexing obituaries. They are typed and therefore easy-to-read. He also likes finding obituaries where people died on the same day as his birthday. It creates a small connection between them and him. My genealogy highlight with him was the day he stood in front of a group of 400 and taught them how to index.
I tricked my 12-year-old into visiting a cemetery with me. My kids know that "you never know what happens when you go somewhere with Dad." I'll take them to ice cream, or to a movie, but this time I took Nathan to a cemetery where we took pictures with the BillionGraves app. I think what he liked most was getting to use Dad's phone (usually off-limits).
My now-14-year-old, Evan, got his start in the Family History Library with me. We were on the way home from a family reunion, and I just needed to stop in Salt Lake City for a quick death certificate. I couldn't believe what I heard when he said, "Dad, can I come with?" I published the rest of the story here.
There are lots of ways to get your kids involved in family history and each family is different. What are some of the ideas you've used with your own family?