The Time Is Right: Helping 11-Year-Olds with Family History

September 3, 2019  - by 

You wouldn’t expect a Sunday school class for 11-year-olds to be exactly the same as a Sunday School class for adults. The topic could be the same. But the teacher’s method—if he or she wanted to be effective—would have to be a little different, right?

The same could be said for parents or ward temple and family history consultants trying to help 11-year-olds prepare for their first temple experience.

4 Ways to Engage 11-Year-Olds in Family History

Plan to help someone who is 11 as you would plan to help anyone—that is, by carefully considering his or her life circumstances, praying for guidance, and then preparing in advance.

Here are a few more thoughts to consider.

Mother and daughter sitting at beach with cell phone

1. Involve parents.

Your efforts are more likely to have an impact when the youth’s parents are involved. In fact, it might be a good idea for you to meet with Mom and Dad first to discuss what you can do to support the family’s temple and family history goals. If the child does not have a FamilySearch account, parents can help their child create an account.

2. Be brief.

Family history experiences for youth can be short. If you’re a parent, a 5-minute conversation at the dinner table, for example, may be more meaningful than a structured lesson.

3. Focus on conversation and activities.

Make sure that the bulk of your time working with an 11-year-old is spent in actual conversation rather than demonstrating a specific research technique. In fact, consider shelving research altogether.

A father walks and talks with his son

You might begin with activities that allow the youth to share what they know about their own family. Listening to their interests is always a good starting point. Again, communication with the family will help you know what focus in most appropriate.

At, you’ll find dozens of activities to choose from, all of which will get youth and their families thinking about ancestors and contributing to their personal histories in unique and inspiring ways.  

4. Explain why family history is important.

Help youth understand that temple and family history work is part of the gathering of Israel—what President Russell M. Nelson has called “the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, and the greatest work on the earth.” Teach them that President Nelson has specifically asked youth to join the cause.

A mother sits with her daughter at a computer

Tell them that they will be qualifying themselves for spectacular blessings when they participate in temple work and family history, including the following:

  • Protection from the adversary.
  • Greater faith in the Savior Jesus Christ.
  • Increased family unity.
  • Strength to overcome difficulties.

The list of promised blessings is even longer.

Remember Your Audience

We can seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost as we serve individuals of all ages. Remember:

  1. Think about the specific needs of the person you are helping.
  2. Then create an experience that takes those needs into account.

Remember to adapt. Remember to modify. Above all, remember to keep trying.

For more on adapting your approach, visit How to Help Others.

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  1. My uncle started me on genealogy when I was 15 and I never put it down since I have done my Mother’s family,, my maternal grandfather’s family, my dad’s family and paternal grandmother’s family is what I am doing now.

  2. Thank you for keeping this very simple. Please keep youngsters away from the merge duplicates process, and even attaching sources needs a good deal of attention, care, and knowledge of the family.

  3. A veces para los abuelos, se nos hace difícil, transmitir distintos conocimientos a nuestros nietos. Como bien dice el blog, es esencial comenzar por sus padres.

    Translation: Sometimes for grandparents, we find it difficult to transmit different knowledge to our grandchildren. As the blog says, it is essential to start with your parents.

  4. While I’m grateful someone finally created a blog post to help 11-yr-olds, I have an unanswered question. I’m quite surprised no one has ever addressed this in a help file or blog. Every help file and every blog that mentions youth (and I do mean EVERY one of them) fail to discuss how they establish an account. Every last bit of advice brushes immediately past this important step and assumes that each 11-yr-old already has a FamilySearch account or they would have the parents or other adults help them obtain an account.

    Most adults who wish to establish an account for their 11 year olds will want someone to answer their obvious questions: “Will the youth need an email address?”, “If the parent doesn’t want them to have an email address, what steps need to be taken to use the parent’s email address?”, “Can consultants help youth with the youth’s Family Tree problems in the same way they help adults (such as adding the youth to their Planner via Helper Resources)?”

    I’m personally afraid to offer my help to any parent or urge any youth to get an account for fear they’ll immediate ask one of these questions for which I don’t know the answer. Furthermore, my exhaustive search to find answers to such question or guides to help 11-yr-olds obtain a FamilySearch account have proved fruitless. Adults I’ve spoken with who signed up their 11-yr-olds tell me there’s a form that must be completed by the parents.

    How do we find out more about these things or find answers to these questions without bugging the missionaries or full-time employees at (such as calling the toll-free number)? Besides, when I approach them with such difficult questions I get a different answer from every person I ask. Are there any FamilySearch employees who care to give us an “official” answer to these questions or, better yet, create a help file on how to sign-up 11-yr olds and tells us how to access it? Also, what about younger children? What’s the lower age limit of children who want to research their family history and is their sign-up process different? What’s the lowest age limit of those who can have an account?