July 22, 2017

Family History for Kids Starts WITH the Kids

This quilt hanging in my daughter Seneca's room was made by her Grandma Morton. It's a photo quilt, packed with pictures of Seneca as a little girl. She loves looking at her own history hanging in bright colors above her bed!

This quilt hanging in my daughter Seneca’s room was made by her Grandma Morton. It’s a photo quilt, packed with pictures of Seneca as a little girl. She loves looking at her own history hanging in bright colors above her bed!

Kids don’t recall much of their young lives. But we as parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles know their stories. We can give their lost memories back to them.

Conversations with my kids always go better when I let them choose the topic. So I chat a lot about Minecraft, music and the everyday dramas of third grade. But the number one thing each of my kids loves to talk about? Themselves!

So how do I talk to them about family history? About ancestors they never met, who never played Minecraft or heard a Piano Guys song? With my kids–and likely with the ones in your life–family history starts with THEM.

Kids don’t recall much of their young lives. Our memories before the age of 10 or so aren’t that specific or consistent. But we as parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles know their stories. We can give their lost memories back to them. We tell them about the day they were born. About grandpa playing his guitar for them. Which television shows they loved. How they felt about sitting on Santa’s lap. Who gave them which toys and quilts. The funny tantrums they threw. How they got their biggest scars.

They love stories about themselves. My kids ask for these stories over and over. They commit them to memory. They push for more details. These stories–and the tone in which they’re told–teach them how valued they are and influence their sense of identity and self-worth.

We blogged recently about how powerfully our personal stories influence our present and future. That can be true for children, too! What stories can you tell a child you love to teach them more about themselves? What could you make or give them that shares a piece of their past with them? If you’re a quilter, why not make a little photo quilt like Seneca’s? Here’s a tutorial video from YouTube: 

The Genealogy Gems Podcast Want more inspiring ideas for sharing family history with children? Check out our interview with Janet Hovorka, author of Zap the Grandma Gap: Connect with Your Family by Connecting Them to Their Family Historyin the free Genealogy Gems podcast episode 162. Family history for kids has never been easier or more fun!

 

 

 

About Sunny

Sunny Morton is a genealogy writer whose work is read by thousands in magazines and online. As a Contributing Editor at Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems, she frequently posts on the news, but also loves to share quick research tips, reveal little-known resources or take genealogists for an exhilarating dive into deeper research topics and techniques. She's also the author of My Life & Times: A Guided Journal for Collecting Your Stories.