New project: family history for children


09 March 2022
Dr Robin McConnell shares a new project to encourage children to explore their family history.

Children are seldom involved in any depth to make family history a research adventure. Thoughtful and innovative family leaders, however, can foster:

  • The involvement of all family members in a new shared family project
  • The development of a unified family through family team leadership
  • The utilisation of present skills and acquisition of new skills
  • An enhanced understanding of history and its personal relevance
  • The overcoming of elements of family member isolation
  • Developing a life-long family history interest with each family member

My forthcoming book, Tracing Your Family History with the Whole Family – A Family Research Adventure for All Ages covers, in depth, all of the present-day family becoming fully involved in researching their family history. It provides hundreds of practical suggestions for drawing each of the family into this adventure and provides sources for enhancing their research.

A family project

A week in the life of…

There is a need for parental innovation and support in this venture. If our children grow in their desire to express themselves, they can compile a written or visual diary of a typical week, interview each other (and themselves) about their current lives, and express themselves with photography, art and personal writing.

Consider examples of the following, for us, as parents and grandparents who link closely with our children and see their increasing sense of personal relevance. Family history then becomes an enjoyably challenging voyage of family discovery and self-discovery.

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A sample list of our children’s activities could include the following.

  • Descriptions of their lives at home, at school and in social organisations
  • Interviewing parents, grandparents and close family friends about their lives and our forebears’ lives
  • Using family history in school subjects such as art, writing, history, cooking, woodwork, recreation and computer literacy
  • Learning to research in major online sites such as FamilySearch, Findmypast, Ancestry and MyHeritage
  • Selecting a subject to track across decades e.g. toys over generations, sport in our family, fashions through our ancestors’ lives, church and our family, hobbies and games over generations, leisure time, family homes lived in over the past 100 years and collecting historical newspaper articles
  • Plotting our family on maps leads to family immigration and settlement
  • Finding stories behind family memorabilia
  • Mastering technical skills e.g. computers and on-camera interviews

Extracted from 'Family history is history with the whole family, in the April 2022 issue of Family Tree magazine. Get your copy here.

About the author

Robin McConnell’s new book Tracing Your Family History with the Whole Family – A Family Research Adventure for All Ages is published by Pen & Sword (ISBN 9781399013888).