Well, that may be an overstatement, I’m not sure my 2 and 1/2 year old would understand if I asked her. for example, “who are your aunts and uncles?” but she would know them if a named them. She simply does not understand the terms “Aunt” or “uncle” yet but the more we talk about them in those terms and explain their relationship to us, her parents, then she will learn those relationships much earlier.
I am certainly of the view that pre-school children can and should be introduced to family history. Yesterday I spent half an hour or so with my 4 and 1/2 year old (being born in November he is one of the oldest in his pre-school class) looking at his living ancestors and showing him how they are connected. He was able to tell me who his aunts and uncles were and his cousins but he didn’t really understand how we were all connected.
You may think that this is something he should know at his age but I am sure not all children his age will do! Think about those children who are not so fortunate as to have aunts/uncles/cousins or living grandparents.
Does you young son/daughter really understand why their Aunt is their Aunt? Why their Uncle is their uncle? How they are related to their cousins? Or even how they are related to their grandparents?
Again this may seem obvious to adults but to pre-school children and those in the early school years it may in fact be not! And this is where family history begins!
Family History at a young age is all about getting to know and understand how you “fit into” your family and who are living ancestors are. Something as simple as telling your children about your own childhood and how it differs to today may grab their attention and engages them in family history.
This can be a long term project for your children and you, growing your tree by each generation as your child grows older and has more understanding. It can also be helpful in their education of history. I remember studying history at school and thinking why is this important? Why do we need to know this? Being able to put various periods and events in history into context through your own ancestors living during that period or event can really bringing history alive and help to understand how those periods and events have shaped our lives and families today.
Of course all children are different and some may have no interest at all, by why not try and wet their appetite, you never know until you try! And of course, those of you who are grandparents…..well the same applies!
Take a look at my Family pedigree tree for young children