As a family historian, you will want to keep your family’s story alive, even after you’re gone. In order to do this, you must either publish the information that has been discovered by other genealogists, or get your children involved in the research, so they can pass the information to their children, grandchildren, and future generations. Kids today are apt to switch from one app on a high tech device, switch from one social network to another, and do so many other things that fascinate them more, if they don’t like what they are doing. If you want your kids to get involved in your mostly low tech LDS family search, you must find activities to keep them involved and interested, or they will go and find something to do that is more entertaining to them. Here are a few suggestions for getting your children involved in your genealogical research.
Choose projects to grab your children’s attention. One way to do this is to ask them what information they would like to find out about your family’s history. Ask your children to help you create a project to design your family tree. Although some children may be interested in knowing which of their ancestors served in the military, others may be interested in knowing what type of land or other property was owned by your family. The important key to grabbing your kids’ interest in your family research, is not just conducting the research itself, but explaining why it is important to find the information you are looking for. You as an adult have your own set of interests when it comes to genealogical research, so why shouldn’t your children have interests of their own? The ultimate goal is to find research projects that are fun and interesting for the kids. Once you have established where their interests lie, then you can educate them in research and public records later on down the road.
Make sure to make the research project relevant to your everyday life. If your children don’t see the relevance in your LDS family search, they will quickly lose interest in your research project, and turn to their technological devices. The goal here is for us to show our children that our ancestors, who have long since left this world are a vital part of our lives today and in the future. These ancestors created the history of your living family member’s lives today. They struggled with the same problems back in long ago times as you and your children do today. For example, you may have an ancestor who had to deal with economic hardships as you and your family do today. Find out what hobbies your children are interested in, or what clubs they participate in. You may be surprised to find that your ancestors may have participated in the same or similar clubs, or had the same hobbies as your children do today. Once you find the ancestors who have experienced similar struggles and the same interests as your children, you can then make a connection that lead your children to find out more about what their ancestors struggled with, and what they enjoyed in their lives.
Show your kids how technology can help them in their research. They will probably want to do more research if they can learn how the technology that they use today can help them find the information they are searching for. There are apps now available to help you and your children in your genealogical research, although some are free, there are others that you have to pay a nominal fee to download. No matter whether you use an app that is genealogy specific, or a web site such as Pinterest, it is important to encourage your children to think outside the box to create ways to record the information they find when using these technological research tools and apps.
4. Plan an exciting field trip for your kids. Not only will it get your children out of the house, but a field trip is an exciting way to create lasting family memories, and it will also help them further understand the process of conducting research on the go. This is a handy skill for your children to have, no matter whether they have become interested in finding out more about their ancestors, or if they need to complete an offline research project for their class at school.
Using the interests you identified with your children in step one, try to find places such as museums, and other sites of local interest that you can take them to visit. Identify any connections you and your children have made with some of your ancestors and visit these places to find out more about these people’s life experiences. Once you take your kids on a field trip to strengthen their connections with your ancestors on a personal level, they will be planning your next adventure before you know it. Create your research project with your children. Now that you have some suggestions for getting your children involved in your LDS family search, take the kids out for dinner, so you can discuss their interests and create a fun family research project to get started on.
For younger children, encourage them to create a treasure map, from which they can recognize significant landmarks, and the areas where these sites are located. If you have older children, why not discuss activities that they can do individually and as a group. Allow one of your eldest teens to be project manager, and help you facilitate your genealogical research plan. Don’t forget to encourage them to use the apps and other technological tools that are available to help them with their research. No matter what the plan you have designed, set realistic goals along the way and don’t forget to celebrate them as they are accomplished. For example, schedule a family meeting, to discuss what information you and your kids have found during your family research. Ask your children to bring their own findings and creative ideas to the meeting, so you can expand on them as you dig deeper into your family’s history.
In closing, I would like to point out that your family history research doesn’t have to be done without the help of your children. On the contrary, your children may choose to participate in your research projects, if they are accessible to them, capture their interest, and prove to be an exciting adventure for them in the long run. Getting your children involved in your LDS family search, will give them the opportunity to create memories that will last them a lifetime.