Genealogy is the study of one’s family history. It can be a fun and rewarding hobby for people of all ages, but it can be especially engaging for teenagers. Teens are at a point in their lives where they are starting to explore their own identities and learn more about their place in the world. Genealogy can help them do just that.
Here are some of the specific needs and interests of teenagers in genealogy:
- Identity: Teens are starting to develop their own sense of identity, and genealogy can help them learn more about their heritage and where they come from. This can be especially important for teens who are from immigrant families or who have mixed heritage.
- Creativity: Teens are often creative and imaginative, and genealogy can provide them with an outlet for their creativity. They can create family trees, write stories about their ancestors, or create presentations about their family history.
- Technology: Most teens are comfortable with technology, and there are many online resources that can help them with their genealogy research. They can use search engines, social media, and online genealogy databases to find information about their ancestors.
- Relevance: Teens are more likely to be interested in genealogy if they can see how it is relevant to their own lives. For example, if they are interested in music, you could help them research the musical careers of their ancestors. If they are interested in sports, you could help them research the athletic accomplishments of their ancestors.
How to Maintain Teens’ Interest in Genealogy as They Grow Older
Here are some tips for keeping teens interested in genealogy as they grow older:
- Give them ownership of their research. Let teens choose their own research topics and set their own goals. This will help them feel more invested in their research.
- Encourage them to be creative. Help teens find ways to express their creativity through their genealogy research. They could write stories, create presentations, or even make films about their family history.
- Connect them with other teen genealogists. There are many online and offline communities for teen genealogists. Connecting teens with other genealogists their own age can help them stay motivated and engaged.
- Make it relevant to their lives. Find ways to connect genealogy to their own interests. For example, if they are interested in music, you could help them research the musical careers of their ancestors. If they are interested in sports, you could help them research the athletic accomplishments of their ancestors.
- Be patient. Genealogy research takes time and effort. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find everything you’re looking for right away.
- Have fun! Genealogy should be enjoyable. If you’re not having fun, you’re not as likely to stick with it.
Genealogy Projects for Teens
Here are some ideas for genealogy projects that teens can create:
- Family tree: Create a family tree using a variety of sources, such as vital records, census records, and family stories. You can use a variety of online and offline tools to create your family tree, such as Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, or simply a piece of paper and a pen.
- Ancestor profile: Choose an ancestor and research their life in detail. Write a paper or create a presentation about your ancestor’s life. Include information about their birth, death, marriage, children, occupation, and any other interesting facts you can find. You can also include photos, documents, and other artifacts related to your ancestor.
- Family history book: Write a book about your family history. Include stories, photos, and other documents. You can organize your book chronologically, by family group, or by theme. You can also include recipes, family traditions, and other cultural elements.
- Family history website: Create a website about your family history. Include information about your ancestors, family photos, and other documents. You can also include a blog where you can share your research findings and stories.
- Family history documentary: Create a documentary about your family history. Interview family members and use archival footage to tell the story of your family. You can use a variety of video editing software to create your documentary.
Additional tips for teens
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you get stuck, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a parent, teacher, or librarian. They can help to point you in the right direction or provide you with resources. Sometimes an extra set of eyes will see details you may have overlooked.
- Be organized. As you do your research, keep your notes and documents organized. This will make it easier to find what you need when you are writing your paper, creating your presentation, or putting together your family tree.
- Be critical of your sources. Not all sources are created equal. When you are doing your research, be sure to evaluate your sources for accuracy and reliability. You can use the CRAAP Test to evaluate your sources:
- Currency: No, we aren’t talking about money here. We are talking about time. Is the source current or up-to-date? Is there more information available that has not been added to this source?
- Relevancy: Is the source relevant to your research topic?
- Authority: Is the source credible? Who created the source and what are their qualifications? Any source that relies on a person’s telling can be wrong. Think of it this way, would you rather trust a baby’s mother telling you the baby’s birth date or Great Aunt Tessy who has never met the baby.
- Accuracy: Is the source accurate? Is the information supported by evidence? You may come across multiple versions of information for the same person. The question is, which source do you trust the most, and what information appears the most?
- Purpose: What is the purpose of the source? Is the source intended to inform, persuade, or sell something?
Tips for parents
If you are a parent of a teen who is interested in genealogy, here are some things you can do to support them:
- Provide them with resources. There are many books, websites, and online databases that can help teens with their genealogy research. You can also help them find local libraries and archives that have genealogy resources.
- Encourage them to ask for help. If your teen gets stuck, encourage them to ask you for help or to ask for help from a librarian, archivist, or other experienced genealogist.
- Help them to be organized. Genealogy research can be overwhelming, so help your teen to be organized by keeping their notes and documents in order.
- Be supportive and patient. Genealogy research can take time and effort. Be supportive of your teen’s efforts and don’t get discouraged if they don’t find everything they’re looking for right away.
Genealogy for teens: a lifelong journey
Genealogy is a lifelong journey. As teens learn more about their family history, they may find new questions that they want to answer. They may also want to share their research with their family and friends. Genealogy is a great way for teens to connect with their past and to learn more about themselves. By following the tips above, you can help your teen get started in genealogy and maintain their interest as they grow older.
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