For whatever reason, genealogy has been pegged as a mature adult’s game. Grandparents do genealogy, not teens. However, this is a myth that would be better corrected because of how much youth can bring to family history work. Involving youth is a great way to accelerate your family history work, strengthen family bonds, and build teen’s appreciation for their families. Getting involved in family history work can also benefit teens by helping them discover and craft their identities – providing them insight into who they really are and where they’ve come from.
The most obvious reason to involve teens in genealogy is their prowess with technology. They can learn to use new programs, websites, and research techniques much faster than any other segment of the population because they have been raised using internet technology. Getting them on your genealogy team will fire up your work like never before and create exciting moments for you and for them. You’ll be stunned at how much of the internet teens will be able to cover in search of their family trees. You just need to get them started.
5 Ways to Involve Youth in Genealogy
1. Through Their Stomachs
It’s always the best way to get anyone’s attention. Have a culture night where you make a traditional food from your ancestral country. (If you want it to be successful, make sure it’s a yummy food and not too adventurous!) While you enjoy the delicious cultural food, talk about other customs from that country. Share the history of your ethnic group, and instill some pride in your teen.
2. A Field Trip or Vacation
Most teens learn best by experiencing things, and a field trip or vacation is something they’ll never forget. Try to get more creative than a cemetery with your family’s graves. Instead go to a museum or landmark that reflects your heritage, and talk about how it relates to your family. It will get through to them much easier than a family tree.
3. Tell Them The “Fun” Stories
Few teens will care about the names of their great great great aunts, but if one of them was arrested for moonshine during prohibition, or you had an ancestor that was royalty? They will eat that up! Share the genealogy stories that are most interesting to get teens excited about their family history.
4. Watch A Movie
There are movies or documentaries for nearly every ethnic group, every major historical event, or every country in the world. Find a good one that relates to your family in some way and watch it as a family with popcorn and candy for movie night! Follow it up with a brief discussion about their ancestors to complete the experience.
5. Make It A Game
Create some type of genealogy challenge for your teen or family to complete. Maybe they have to fill out a blank family tree, or find new research about an existing ancestor. You could provide a prize for the amount of names indexed in a week or month. Making family history a more interesting and rewarding hobby can turn it into a habit that will reward your family for years to come.
We hope these tips are helpful for getting the youth in your family involved in family history and genealogy, and invite you to find more information on our site or contact us with any questions you have.