Genealogy for Kids

I was planning to report on the DNA Webinar I watched today, but the organizer postponed it until November 5. Click on the link if you’re interested in registering.

Instead, I will share some points I learned from one of the webinars I viewed during today’s My Heritage One-Day Genealogy Seminar. Actually, it was the perfect thing to do on this nasty, rainy day. I watched several of the presentations, but the one that resonated most with me was given by Jessica Taylor. Here is a summary of the points she made in “How to  Pass Your Ancestors’ Legacy to Your Grandchildren.”

For a good article on sharing genealogy with kids, see “The Stories that Bind Us.” The New York Times.

Ideas for sharing with the very young

  • Have conversations – simply chat with the younger children about what your ancestors did or tell family stories. Relate daily tasks to what life was like “in the old days.” An example was simply sharing with kids that we used to have wires attached to our phones.
  • Create a simple storybook – Jessica provided a really sweet example of a storybook she created. She stapled a few sheets of blank paper together to form a booklet and wrote one simple sentence about the “featured” ancestor at the bottom of each page. The child then illustrated each page by drawing a corresponding picture. 
  • Talk about foods and meals – a great way to instill memories of family traditions and the ethnic foods of ancestors.

Ideas for sharing with older kids

  • Conversation – see above – conversations with older kids can be in more detail of course. Teenagers, in particular, may connect with stories of obstacles overcome. Resilience (a trait sadly lacking in today’s teens, IMHO) is demonstrated as the cyclical nature of families is discussed. VERY simplified example: “We were poor. Then Dad got a great job. We bought a new house. Then Mom got really sick. Mom got better. Dad lost his job. But we made it through….”
  • Books – self-published books about ancestors
  • Watch shows – Shows such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “Finding Your Roots” are great to watch. There is a new web series, “Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings” which is geared to young people. 

Jessica stressed the importance of recording your own story (actually, she kind of begged.)  We often don’t think about our stories, but we will become ancestors to our descendants. If we don’t memorialize our own stories, we create the same scenario we face today as genealogists desperately trying to recreate the life stories of those we’ve lost.

All the seminar sessions were recorded and should be available to view by Tuesday on LegacyFamilyTree Webinars. Here are the topics:

  • Google for Genealogy: Search Tricks to Tease Out Information
  • How to Pass Your Ancestors’ Legacy to Your Grandchildren
  • Introduction to the Use of Autosomal DNA Testing
  • Advanced Autosomal DNA Techniques Used in Genetic Genealogy
  • Filling in the In-Between of the Jewish BMD
  • Jewish Family Research Challenges
  • Discover Your Family History with MyHeritage’s Unique Technologies

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