One thing we hear all the time about homeschooling is the fact that, as a family, we are always together. You know those jokes about parents celebrating when their kids go back to school. We don’t “get” that. But really, that’s our choice, and you know, being with our families all the time can be challenging, but we know there are also some amazing benefits to it. And really – we kinda like it that way!
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One of the ways in which we can celebrate being with our family so much is engaging our kids in learning about their family history. In today’s world, family history has been commercialized so much to where we immediately think of online research and DNA tests when it’s brought up. But it is so much more than that.
Homeschooling and Family History
Family history is the story of our families. It’s not so much about biology, but about those who have played a part in our lives, those who raised us, who we come from – whether they are related biologically or not. The family is more than DNA, and family history remembers everyone.
Our kids spending special time with their great-grandparents
Everyday Family History
So, what are the basics of family history, and how can we incorporate it into our homeschooling? Well, let me let you in on a little secret: you’re probably already sharing your family history with your children, whether you realize it or not! Do you share stories from your childhood with your kids? Stories of how you and your spouse met? Stories of your parents? Stories of your children’s births or adoptions? Do your family members go around the table at holidays and share favorite memories? If you have ever done any of these things – you are sharing family history. Because that’s what it is: storytelling of a family’s past – the history of your family members, whether it’s from your childhood, or the life of an ancestor who lived hundreds of years ago.
3 Tips for Homeschooling and Family History
So, what are some ways in which we can intentionally incorporate family history into our children’s homeschooling?
Creating a Family Tree
Start with the basics: Create a simple 3 – 4 generation family tree. Include your kiddos at the bottom, then level up to you and your spouse, add the grandparents and great-grandparents, and then, if you can’t go back any further – that’s okay! You will have created a perfect visual for your kids to see just what their heritage looks like, going back decades. (If you have room, add in aunts, uncles, and cousins!)
Now that you have a family tree, when you tell family stories, your kids can see exactly how that person is related. Plus, just making the tree will bring back memories and bring up questions. “Remember so-and-so? Oh, let me tell you about the time she…” Your kids will have stories to share, too! Have a special tea time or dinner with a traditional family recipe where you share stories, or simply share the stories as they come to you, on walks, drives, while working around the house, anytime.
Your family stories and memories are endless. Let them flow, and they will bring your family closer together. But don’t stop there – now is the time to collect family stories, while your children are still young. With your kids, take the time to visit the elders in your family. Homeschooling families have the wonderful advantage of more family time, and so spending time with elders is a great way to add even more value to that time.
Encourage your kids to listen to them with respect and an open and eager heart, and to ask questions – to even be prepared with specific questions to interview their family member if they are okay with that. There is so much to learn, and so much to be gained. Record those stories in writing, too. Make a scrapbook, share old photos, write stories with your kids.
Preserve your family stories and memories with your children, and they will last generations.
I’ve created the perfect guide for you in helping your kiddos interview their elders – An Introduction to Interviewing Family Members for Children. It introduces kids to family history interviews and provides interview questions with space for recording answers and taking notes. Download for free here!
Download An Introduction to Interviewing Family Members for Children
An Introduction to Interviewing Family Members for Children
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Katie Andrews Potter is an author, educator, and family historian from Indianapolis, Indiana. She is a homeschool mama of two kiddos and several pets! She is the author of YA historical fiction series The Wayfaring Sisters and is releasing her first children’s picture book this fall, When Mother Read Aloud: The Life Story of Almyra King Holsclaw, based on the memoir of her great-great-great grandmother. Katie believes in the power of storytelling in all its forms and writes about stories and family history at her blog, Storybook Ancestor.