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.
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.
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 FamilySearch.org/discovery, 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.
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:
- Think about the specific needs of the person you are helping.
- 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.
Latest posts by David Nielsen (see all)
- Family History for Children—Mike Sandberg at RootsTech 2019 - September 8, 2019
- The Time Is Right: Helping 11-Year-Olds with Family History - September 3, 2019
- Helper Resources: The Go-to Page for Helping with Family History - August 25, 2019