Family History Goes to School

The final weeks of the school year can trigger anxiety, especially if project deadlines are involved. If younger students are stumped about how to complete an assigned project, consider whether family history could be the key to their success.

Crystal Farish, a researcher at AncestryProGenealogists, helped her own children connect with their past through school work, but she also has seen genealogy-inspired projects light up an interest in the field for many other students. She offered these ideas for bringing the family tree into the homework realm:

  1. History:
  1. Writing/Journalism:
  1. Geography:

Because children are comfortable with apps and technology in general, they sometimes need only minimal prodding from adults to find their own answers. Farish recommends that parents and teachers prompt curiosity instead of providing answers.

“I think as a parent the best thing you can do is ask questions and get them looking for answers,” Farish said. “‘I wonder how we could see if his house is still there? I wonder if there are any recipes?’ Ask the kids how to find out. There is so much available, and they know how to find it.”

  1. Art/Music:

Farish finds the possibilities in this category to be especially engaging for young people. “All those things touch all your senses,” she said. “It really helps you experience an ancestor’s life, even if you didn’t know them.”

  1. Science:
  1. Life Skills:
  1. Service Projects:

Even outside the classroom, activities intended to serve others can also open the eyes of young people. Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts can use family history to earn badges. Many service opportunities exist for those interested in family history.

Farish invites students to explore innumerable other ideas to incorporate family history into their learning. What has worked for you?