In an age that values instant gratification, looking ahead, and so much independence, we have to be intentional with our children to teach them the importance of slowing down, looking back, and learning about where they came from.
My mother Arlene and her big sister Betsy, posing with their Oma and her dog Meme
This summer, my kids and I put together a guide to interviewing our older relatives. Over at Blue House Joys, we're all about sparking imagination, creativity, and a love of learning in children, and this project fits perfectly with our mission. This activity was a big hit in our home and I hope it will be in yours as well.
When I was in Junior High, we had a class assignment to interview a handful of relatives and make our very own LIFE magazine. It turned out to be such a fun assignment! I learned many things about family members I’d been around my entire life that I never would have known without asking some intentional questions. Now I’m excited to pass down a similar assignment to the next generation.
Families come in all sizes and compositions, so it’s important to let your child take the lead in this activity. You may be surprised at who they consider to be family! They might like to interview a non-relative such as a teacher, neighbor, or other instrumental adult in their life.
This is just a guide to get your child thinking, so feel free to let them tweak it so that it works for them.
Four generations of strong women: Oma, granny Evelyn, mom Arlene, and myself as a baby
I’ve put together a free printable that your child can use as a guide while writing down possible questions and preparing the the interview. If they really enjoy it after the first round, print more copies and let them make a binder full of their interview notes.
After giving it a try this summer, my kids and I found that it’s helpful to have something to record the audio and just use the printed guide for reading questions and jotting down short notes during the interview. When you try to write everything down in the moment, you often miss important pieces, and your interviewee does not feel quite as relaxed when you have your head down and are writing the entire time.
I let my kids borrow my phone and use the voice recording app when they did their interviews. This made it easy to go back and replay the interview to pick up all the details.
Our kids really got into the project and planned out some drinks and snacks that they knew their grandmother would enjoy. This helped them take ownership and get more excited about planning the interview ahead of time.
I hope that you will give it a try and that your child will enjoy this project. Once you see how much fun they're having, you may even want to tweak the idea a bit and do some interviews yourself!
I’ll leave you with a few questions you can ask your child to get them brainstorming.
Remember, there is no perfect way to do this, and the more fun you have with it the better. While reliving old memories, you'll be making new memories for your family to treasure in the future.
Terri Steele is the creative mind behind Blue House Joys, a magical online shop with handmade supplies for your child's many quiet adventures. Find a wealth of imaginative ideas by following her on Instagram.
A love of reading is often discovered at a young age and is a tremendous asset for anyone; readers have an entire world available to them that non-readers don’t benefit from. They can learn skills, entertain themselves, glean wisdom from history, and find inspiration for self-improvement using nothing but a (free!) public library. Yet sometimes, though children can read, they see it more as required work than a privilege and miss out on the joy that the habit can bring.