The Importance of Teaching Our Children Their Genealogy and Family History

I have been interested in my family tree for as long as I can remember.  I always loved listening to everyone’s stories, trying to store it somewhere in my memory.  The best stories came when my Granny would bring out her box of old photos and tell us who everyone was.  Paying attention has come in handy a lot of times while doing my research.

My children know that I love researching our family tree, and I try to share things with them whenever I can.  I know they are interested, maybe not as much as me, but I am sometimes amazed when they tell me things that they remember learning from me.

Show and Tell

I think my boys connect better with the facts and stories I tell them when they actually have something to see.  When I come across a photo of someone, I will remind them of a story that I had told them or let them know how they are related to the person.

My boys are drawn to stories about the Great Depression and wars, so if I can show them a war medal or tell them a story about how our family survived the Great Depression, they are pretty impressed.  Seeing or touching something tangible or hearing about what our family was doing during a time in history, gives them a connection to some of the things they have learned in school.

Let’s Go on an Adventure

Going on a trip to a cemetery may not sound like much of an adventure, but to a little child it can be.  Some years ago I took my boys to some local cemeteries to search out and photograph some family graves.  They enjoyed being outdoors and we had some good conversations about our ancestors and the differences in the cemeteries.

Having the extra eyes  to read the headstones was actually a big help.  Plus, they learned that cemeteries are not such scary places.  I’m pretty sure if I asked them to go today, they’d be ready for another adventure, or maybe they would just go to keep me company and humor me.

Take Them to the History

I love history and going to historical sites.  If I can take my children to a historical site and connect it to our family history, they really enjoy it.  They seem to have a better connection and understanding of history when they know that an ancestor played a part in it.

One of their favorite trips was to Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island, a place where their fourth great-grandfather was stationed as a Union officer at the end of the Civil War.  They loved watching a demonstration given by a man in a Union uniform and shooting a musket.

I recently read about a study that showed children who know about their family history tend to be more resilient.  It is believed that as these children understand where they came from, they feel that they are a part of something bigger.

My children may never be as passionate about genealogy and family history as I am, but I do hope that they remember just a little bit of what I taught them.