#StayHome: We have nothing to play? Let’s explore the child’s origins – create a family tree!

Every child has the right to private life, and part of that right is the right to know his or her origin. This knowledge is considered important for a child’s personal development. Not knowing, from birth, parents and other adults involved in raising a child may support, respect, and protect the child’s right to identity. From the very birth, parents do this in the way of determining the child’s personal names, which, together with their names and date of birth, are recorded in the birth book. By allowing the family to become acquainted with members of the immediate family and their relatives as well as the stories of his or her ancestors, the child learns about his or her identity.

And only at one point does the child start questioning about relationships between families and relatives. Knowing that it only belongs to this “gathering” gives it security, but it also brings excitement to which you can contribute. The very story of ancestors and the adventures of family life is fun for the child, and if he records any of these, it will become a lasting memory. At the same time, you will help your child more easily “grasp”, understand family and family ties. This type of fun may encourage you, as well as older children, to explore further and further into the past.

Before the journey begins, think about how much time your child will focus on this content and adjust the duration of the activity.


  1. “Family name”

Tell your child that in ancient times, people had only personal names, and only later were surnames, or “family names”, created. Encourage your child to list their classmates’ last names or list their last names, known to the child. You can then tell him about the birth of Croatian surnames, how some of them came from the names of mothers, and some of the names of fathers. Explain to him that some people have been given their surnames by their parents’ occupation (eg. Together with your child, try to list a few last names as they arise, not forgetting the funniest child, and then refer to your “family name”. Design a variety of options for your surname to emerge, or, if you know it, tell the story of its origin. Tell your child that noble families used to have a family coat of arms and search and study the coat of arms pictures together. Then offer your child paper and colors (tempers, felt-tip pens, wooden crayons) and let them design your family’s coat of arms. When done, report the coat of arms to a visible place.


  1. “Birthdays”

You will need a calendar for this activity. You can use the one you own or create it yourself so that you can draw a calendar grid on a large piece of paper with your child. You can chart the network for the next month, the next few months, or the whole year. Ask the child about the birthdays he looks forward to, the season in which he was born, the month in which he was born, the day. Ask the same about yourself, the other parent, brother/sister, and other family members. Your child’s knowledge of the calendar will depend on the amount of help you need to mark the date you mentioned. Show younger children the place they will mark the event and let them choose the symbol they will mark that day (birthday cake, flowers, gift, or a recognizable symbol). Make your birthday special decorations. Remind him of dear people whose birthdays he may have missed.

Then comes the wait. Older children will know for themselves how many days until the first recorded birthday, while younger children will need your help. When ten days remain until the event, prepare an empty pack of ten eggs. Have a child place one pebble, a piece of paper, a small ball or something else at each egg-laying location of your choice. Every day let one of the places be vacated, for ten days. The day that he empties his last place, the day of celebration is over. When it comes to waiting for his birthday, fill some empty spaces with treats (like candy).


  1. “Family Researcher”

Now that you’ve collected your birth dates, your child can include other family members and relatives in the fun to learn more about them. Together, think about the questions your child will learn about the birthplace of each family member, the school they went to, their occupation, and more. The child can write down the questions and ask or answer the same questions to anyone he/she is interviewing. Some of the conversations will continue spontaneously and the issues will be imposed. It will be interesting to hear what all the child has learned and to watch how delighted they are with their findings. Have the research for the exercise begin with the household members and record the answers and then continue with telephone conversations. For this activity, it is possible to organize a special, “important” notebook that the child can decorate and give it a title. It can also add a photo of the person interviewed to the recorded interviews or the child can only create a portrait of them.


  1. Family Tree

And if you already have one, encourage your child to just create a family tree. If you haven’t made one, you might find out that you don’t know. Take a larger piece of paper on which the child can only draw a tree or you can help him or her. When the tree is complete, put your child’s name (or photo) at the beginning of the tree or the beginning of the tree canopy. For some children, drawing a tree can be too challenging, but there are other ways to create a family tree. The templates are easy to find on the Internet. One way is to draw a box in the middle of the bottom of the paper in which to write its name. Marking your name is just the beginning. Then (whether or not it is a tree), they will add frames for siblings at the end of their frame, above themselves for parents. And so let it continue. For each individual box, enter the date of birth, place of birth, occupation of the person, and when it reaches the top of the canopy, for further ancestors, enter the year of death.

Help the child figure out a way to get information that is unknown to you and him. Phone contacts or e-mails are very welcome to spread and perfect a variety of children’s skills, and it will be a joy for the person the child contacts. At some point, the child will fill in the blank space of paper and the family tree will be completed, but some children may be interested in further research. At that point, you will simply “stuff the papers” up, left, right, as needed. It is also possible to reach out to one of the websites (egwww.geni.com or www.myheritage.com) that is easy and fun to use.


By: Tamara Gojković, BSc. social worker

Disclaimer: This is unofficial translation provided for information purposes. Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center cannot be held legally responsible for any translation inaccuracy.   

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