3 Activities (and 1 Adventure) to Explore Ancestry With Your Kids
Our identities are made up of our nature and our environment, and our family heritage plays a significant role in both. It’s why so many people, especially children and teens, enjoy unlocking the mystery of their ancestry.
Teaching your children about genealogy can foster a better sense of self-identity and help your kids better understand why they are here. It can help them feel connected and part of something bigger than themselves. If you think your child could benefit from learning about this journey, here are four ways to explore family history and ancestry with your kids.
Take a DNA Test as a Family
Get the whole family excited to take a DNA test that explores the biological map of your family history. Lineage is just as much about family tales and narratives as it is the building blocks that make up your individual and familial identity. AncestryDNA and 23AndMe are two reputable, affordable at-home DNA testing kits that even beginners can do. Encourage your children to explore their own identity by looking into the very basic building blocks of their existence. DNA testing is a lot of fun, but it also reveals some very personal health information; be sure everyone in the family understands the test and is comfortable with it.
Interview an Older Relative
Grandparents and great-grandparents are libraries of family history—and often their anecdotes are far more interesting than vital records. Teach your child about their ancestry from a primary source—a family member who remembers the various journeys in your pedigree. Take pictures when you meet with them as memory prompts or conversation starters. Be sure to choose someone interesting and fun, but who is also able to hear and communicate well. And think of family members who might feel less included with the younger generations. They will appreciate the opportunity to connect more than you know.
Explore Diversity in Your Heritage
Understanding our own diverse makeup can help us feel more connected to people and places that might otherwise feel out of our element. This can be especially true for non-traditional and blended families, and especially challenging for biracial and adopted children. Give all aspects of your heritage some attention, but help your child deepen their perspective for the diversity in their family history. This can help bridge gaps in some of the ways they may have been feeling different or even excluded. You can give your child clues to help them mine the depths of their own identity
Plan a Family Road Trip
One of the most exciting ways to learn about family history is to live it! Pile the family (don’t forget the dog) into your car and take a trip back in time. Visit their grandparents’ hometowns and the neighborhoods you grew up in. Explore the cities where your family lived when they first came to your country. Give your children older photos of the places you plan on visiting and share some stories for context. You can spark their interest by letting them help plot the course or choose a few mini-adventures to have along the way. Try to meet up with old friends and family members throughout your journey to give some personality to all the places and memories.
Exploring your ancestry won’t just teach your children new family details, but you’ll learn a few new things, too. This activity can benefit their identity, your identity and the way you all feel connected to each other. By exploring your roots with the help of the above tips, you can build a stronger family.