Connect To The Youth In Your Family By Connecting Them To Their Family History

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Family History Benefits For Youth, Part 1

It's no secret to us that family history binds families together, both past and present.  I have had amazing and very cherished bonding moments with my children through doing family history research, recreating family memories, and watching them take on genealogy work for themselves.  I have to say, it is a rewarding experience to see your child, or grandchild, blossom as a result of family history.  I am currently researching the science behind how family history benefits youth, and as a result, I have been accepted to teach two seminars at Rootstech 2015 next year.  I am quite excited about it.  I also have an article that will be published soon in an upcoming issue of  In it, I discuss the benefits of doing family history work for youth, both academic and emotional.  With school starting up again, I thought now would be a great time to share some of the ideas that I have been studying with all of you in a two part blog series on the topic.  Today we'll talk about the academic benefits of family history and next week we'll discuss the emotional benefits.

Family history can help a student make a personal connection to a multitude of academic topics.  Naturally, studying about an ancestor who participated in an historical event creates a sense of reality for history studies, but genealogy envelops a multitude of academic topics.  Topics such as geography, language, social studies, science, religion, culture, art, music, food, etc, are all touched on in genealogy and by helping your child or grandchild become invested in your family's ancestry and history exposes them to each of these subjects.  You can connect almost any academic study to your family history if you take a moment to "think outside of the box" and consider how something might relate to your family directly.  

In addition, family history research involves logic, detective skills, library and research skills, writing and communication, spelling, typing, technology and computer skills.  Finding out about your family involves organization and the ability to sift and judge information based on its source--basic reasoning skills that our youth are so desperately in need of at this time.  So many youth today are conditioned to instant answers, without thinking past the idea of "googling" information, that is then often taken at face value.  Family history work will teach your child or grandchild to stop, pay attention, and reason out facts and sources.  It certainly has the power to hone their skills for those massive research papers and projects that occur in later grades and college.

Parents and grandparents often sacrifice a great deal in order to allow their children to excel in athletics, music, performing arts, and a variety of other extra-curricular activities, in addition to basic core subject studies.   Adding your family’s history to your child's arsenal of developed talents can be a rich experience that helps a child explore the world around them.  It helps your child to connect with the subjects he or she is already studying in a deeply personal way because it encompasses the events that have transpired to culminate in who that child is today.  It tells them about the people who came together to create the life they have now.  In short, it will add layers to your child's understanding and connection to his or her world.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Have You Seen This Yet?

It's completely official.  FamilyFun Magazine has declared it so.  August 9th is FamilyFun Day.  What does that mean?  Well, it's now "officially" a day for you to go and make some memories with your family.  Not that you needed anyone to make it official or anything, but hey, it's a great excuse to gather the tribe under the banner of "family fun."

So, as a result of the whole shebang, I thought I would give you a couple of quick ideas to get the brain going for an amazing Saturday.  There really will be no excuse now for you to not do something.  First and foremost, FamilyFun is running a contest along with this new holiday, so be sure to check out the details here.  $100 to publish a picture of your family having fun?  I'll sign up for that one!  Secondly, you can check out their Celebrate FamilyFun Day Pinterest Board for a slew of activity/craft ideas.  Or, if you'd like to make it more about extended family and packing a genealogy punch into the planned festivities, please check out my Youth and Genealogy Pinterest Board.  There are lots of great ideas for taking family time one step further and making it really count for the generations, past and present.

If all of that seems to be just too much, how about keeping it simple?  I am all for that.  Your Saturday can be easily spent doing really simple but fun activities that will foster conversation and bonding.  Pull out the board games for starters.  There is nothing like a little friendly competition in the spirit of fun to get the kids to engage with you on a hot Summer afternoon.  Can't get the phones and tablets out of their hands?  Did you know most classic board game apps actually have a feature where you can play against each other over WiFi?  I kid you not.  Check that out if you get a chance.  After some friendly game playing, you may have worked up some appetites.  Of course a cookout will always be a hit.  Even if it is just hotdogs--stuff just tastes better if it's been grilled.  I'm sure there is probably some scientific evidence to back me up here somewhere.  However, any kind of baking or cooking, generally speaking, is a great way to bond.  Let the kids just get in the kitchen with you and mix up a masterpiece.  Especially if it's a favorite family dish or one with family connections tied to it.  The memories will be far sweeter than any treat you actually make.  You could bundle up the freshly made treats and go visit a relative that you haven't seen in a while and interview him or her for personal records.  Or what about giving that old treasure hunt a try?  A bike ride, a walk in the park, a phone call to a distant grandparent (or Skype... even better!), build an indoor fort, make a craft, read a book... anything.  Just take some time to set aside the errands and yard work this Saturday and just be together as a family.  Do something that will make memories and then record those memories for future generations to look over.  Trust me, you'll be so glad you did.

(This is not a sponsored post.  I just thought it was a fun idea to share.)