A family tree is a diagrammatic representation of a pedigree that shows the relationships among an individual’s ancestors, descendants, and other family members.
The representation takes the shape of a tree, with one individual as the starting point (root). Each branch represents an individual family member and indicates their name, birth date, picture, or any other information.
Family trees have increased in popularity over time. This is because the more integrated society becomes, the easier it is to forget your ancestors. Understanding your ancestors allows you to connect with your heritage and develop an identity. A family tree also helps you learn how previous generations participated in or impacted historical events. You can pass on to your children the history and legends of your family in this way, preserving them for future generations. In addition, a family tree can help you trace genetics and family-related health issues as a parent. You can include this information in your children’s medical history to avoid being surprised if family-related conditions affect them.
This article will discuss what to include when creating a family tree. You can also use a template that you can edit and use multiple times to teach your kids about their genealogy. This family tree template can be used by anyone who wants to identify family members in their lineage/history, the relationship between family members who share the same surname, or simply learn about their family origin.
Family Tree’s Usefulness
A family tree is used for different reasons. Curiosity can lead children to inquire about their family history. Explaining this information verbally can be quite difficult for them to grasp.
Therefore, you should always consider using a family tree instead for the following reasons:
Provides a better understanding of relationships
By conducting an ancestry search, you are able to identify relationships between your family members, from cousins and aunts to grandparents and even great-grandparents. A family tree can help you find family members you never knew existed. Families can be separated due to war, disasters, etc., and a family tree is an excellent way to learn about distant relatives that we may never have met.
It gives a sense of identity
Learning about your ancestry helps you and your kids have a sense of identity. Assume you discover your ancestors came from a specific culture and tribe; this information provides you with an identity because you can trace your lineage.
Feeling of pride
Teaching your children about your lineage through a family tree makes them most likely to develop a sense of pride in their family. This is because a family tree can help you learn about major events in your family history, such as hardships, historically significant stories, or unique things your ancestors did.
More contemporary uses
Family trees have other modern uses, more so in health and law. Medical professionals are known to use family trees to determine genetic diseases in families. Learning about genetic diseases in your family allows you to consider preventative measures and lifestyle changes to protect yourself and your children from the disease(s).
When distributing inheritance, courts have been known to use family trees to establish an individual’s lineage and offspring.
How to Make a Perfect Family Tree?
A family tree template is the easiest tool to use to teach your kids about their lineage and family history. This article will show you how to make one using a template that contains the information you want to convey to your children.
Below is a step-by-step process for creating an informative and exciting family tree for kids:
Step 1: Gather information about your family
The first step is collecting enough information to input into the family tree. This includes gathering family photographs, documents, and publications; reading property listings in the local library; interviewing senior citizens familiar with your family lineage; etc. Also, try to gather information like names, inter-relationships, and major events.
Step 2: Choose an appropriate template
Creating a family tree can be a daunting and mentally engaging task. However, you can simplify the process by using a suitable template. There are multiple types of templates you can use to create family trees. Some of them may be characterized based on the number of generations you want to include, and some by the use of the family tree. In this case, you should choose a template that is appropriate for your kids, which means a colorful and simple family tree. This way, your children will save time and effort in completing and comprehending it.
Step 3: Draft an outline with all the family members
Next, you should create an outline that lists all the family members you want to include in the family tree. You should establish all the relationships among all the members listed in the outline.
Step 4: Create a ‘branch’ for each family member
Most family tree templates will begin with you as the root and trace other family members backward. However, some templates can start with one ancestor and trace their offspring. From the “root,” you should then create a “branch” for each family member. It would help if you started with your generation, which includes your siblings, then your parents’ generation, then their parent’s generation, and so on. You should also attach any pictures, names, DOBs, partners, and other information to the branches.
Step 5: Distribute to your family
After finalizing the family tree with as many family members as you can find, you can share the document with your kids and other interested family members.
But, What to Include
Depending on how you plan to use the family tree, you may choose what kind of information to include. For example, a family tree to teach your kids about your lineage does not have to be as detailed as a family tree to be used by a scientist.
However, most family tree templates will have the following sections that you can complete and then show to your kids:
Blood relations form the foundation of a family tree. Blood ties can lead to a variety of relationships. The following blood relations can be included in the family tree:
- Sibling: Your brother or sister
- Cousin: Son/daughter of your aunt/ uncle
- Uncle: Brother of your mother or father
- Aunt: Sister of your mother or father
- Second cousin: Son/daughter of first cousins of either of your parents
- Niece: Your brother’s or sister’s daughter
- Nephew: Son of your brother/sister
- Grandfather: Mother to your mother/father
- Grandmother: Mother of your mother/father
- Grandchildren: Children’s children
- Great-grandmother: Your grandparents’ mother
- Great-grandfather: Your grandparents’ father
- Great-grandchildren: Children of your children’s children
- Great aunt: Aunt to one of your parents
- Great uncle: Uncle to one of your parents
Relations by marriage
In-laws are also part of a family tree. Therefore, you should always consider marriages that have occurred throughout your family’s history. Relations formed through marriage include:
- Father-in-law: Father of your spouse
- Mother-in-law: Mother of your spouse
- Stepsister/brother: Child from a previous marriage of stepparent
- Stepdaughter: Child of a spouse from a previous marriage
- Half-sister/brother: Child from a remarriage of one of your parents
An informative family tree should also include dates of special days or events. Some of the important dates you ought to take into consideration include the following:
- Date of birth (b): The DOB of each family member should be indicated next to their name. The DOB can be represented as b in the document.
- Date of marriage: The marriage dates for married family members should also be outlined in the family tree. You can use m to indicate that the individual is married, and  and  to indicate their first and second marriages, and so on.
- Date of death (d): Family members who have passed away will frequently be listed on family trees. The associated date of death should be indicated with the letter d.
Signs and symbols
There are customary signs and symbols used in the family tree to indicate different relationships. These signs and symbols include the following;
- Vertical lines: Vertical lines are used to show relationships between parents and children.
- Horizontal lines: Horizontal lines are used to link all the siblings to their parents.
- Equal sign: An equal sign is used to show that two individuals are married.
Your family tree can include photos of family members. Photos help your kids get familiar with their relatives’ faces and make the family tree more exciting.
You can reduce the time and work required to create a detailed and informative family tree by using templates. It also helps you customize and share it with other family members. To help our readers create effective family trees, we have provided free downloadable templates on our site that you can complete, print, and share with your relatives and kids. The templates are easy to use and modify in case a user discovers new information, like a new family member that has to be added to the family tree.
Fun Tips to Try
To ensure the family tree benefits your kids as much as possible, you can use the following tips when explaining it to them:
Spark your children’s interest in their family history
You should pique their interest to begin the process. This can be done in several ways. Start telling them great stories about their ancestors and relatives. You can start with relatives they are already familiar with, such as cousins, aunts, or grandparents. Most children will always enjoy a great-grandparent’s story. This can lead to more questions from them, and then you can introduce the family tree.
Explain the family ties
Since a family tree can span several generations, it can prove very helpful to explain the family ties of relatives the children regularly see, for example, during holidays, family photos, or family cookouts. In this way, they can progress from familiar acquaintances to distant relatives they are unfamiliar with.
Introduce the concept of generations and fraternity
Also, you can start by starting with one generation (their peers), followed by your generation as a parent, and so on. The majority of templates will use vertical lines to distinguish between generations and horizontal lines to distinguish between fraternities. This makes it possible to explain each section separately, which helps the kids understand.
Ask questions and make them play detective
You can also incorporate questions to check if they understand how different family members are related. Their responses will often tell you if they understand the family ties. You can also give them tasks using the family tree, for example, to find out how relative A is related to relative B.
Frequently Asked Questions
The study and formal recording of a person’s, family’s, or group’s lineage back to an ancestor or lineage are known as genealogy. It involves collecting lineage data through interviews, genetic analysis, reviewing historical records, etc., and creating the associated family tree(s).
A tree structure is a technique for presenting hierarchical data visually. The data is represented to show how different levels of data are linked from a single piece of data such that it forms a tree-like structure, hence the name “tree structure.”
A genogram is a more exhaustive family tree that incorporates genetics and other medical information about a lineage. Medical professionals commonly use genograms to identify hereditary patterns within a particular lineage.
The concept of representing lineage in a family tree has been popularly linked to a piece of art known as “The Tree of Jesse” which was used to convey the birth story from creation to Christmas. The Tree of Jesse outlines the ancestry of Christ.
You should consider creating a family tree because it helps you learn your ancestry, family history, and origin. It also helps you connect with your roots as well as distant relatives that you may not have known before. Family trees are also an efficient way of preserving family history and passing it on to the next generation.