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The Family Tree Assignment
Posted: 29 October 2009 05:43 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  40

The Family Tree describes one kindergartener’s charming take on this dreaded school project. How have you addressed the Family Tree assignment with your child’s teacher? Any great solutions/conversations you can share with the group?

Posted: 29 October 2009 07:18 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  40

For another charming take on a similar assignment, I’d like to recommend the children’s book “Star of the Week: A Story of Love, Adoption and Brownies with Sprinkles,” by Darlene Friedman; Roger Roth.(HarperCollins,2009)

Posted: 30 October 2009 06:39 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  47

I guess my take on this probably isn’t ‘charming’, but I do remember being an adoptee trying to do these projects.  Now, I’m a mother and grandmother with minors in history and sociology helping my offspring fill in the blanks.  I’m an active member of my local genealogical society, and I’ve come to have a great appreciation for the purpose behind teaching children about family trees. 

I do know that some ap’s as well as adoptees are very much against these projects, but I think they are absolutely wonderful.  First of all, they inspire an adoptee to ask questions.  Second, they begin to teach the student their place in history.  Unfortunately, in the case of adoptees, our histories have been rewritten.  I remember the first of these projects I encountered was in second grade, and all we were asked to discover was our ancestors’ national origin.  I had often wondered where I came from, but I had never before wondered where my family originated.  When I inquired of my amom, she informed me that my mother’s surname ‘sounded German’.  Today, I can trace that surname back to 17th century Switzerland.  I have a copy of a letter written in German by my g-g-g-grandmother, an Amish woman, explaining to her brother why she hoped to leave France for America.  She went into some detail about the economic and social upheaval that inspired her desire.  Reading that letter then visiting her grave here in America conveys a personal sense of history that just cannot be acquired from a book. 

IMO, it’s not the assignment that should be address with the teacher, but the purpose of the assignment with those who question its value.  History provides vital lessons, and those lessons are no less crucial at the personal level than at the global level.  We cannot expect to build an appreciation of world history while ignoring the importance of personal history.  It is like trying to build a castle without a foundation.  It may appear beautiful, but its beauty will be fragile and brief.  If my personal history is of such little value that it can be discarded, why should I care about the history of others?  Why should I care about history at all?  And if I do find value in human history, why should I allow my own history to be erased? 

This project is about much more than writing names in a blank.  It is about identity, self-respect, and understanding our place in the human experience.  It is an important project.

Posted: 10 November 2009 07:43 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  10

Stacey - I love that she made a palm tree for her family tree!  She is one creative little gal! 

Our third grader just had a time line project last week at school.  He has only been home for 8 months, so I was pretty intrigued about how his would look. 

It turns out, it was pretty heavy on this past year with not much happening between birth and our 8 hour plane ride home from Poland last March.  Then there were lots of fun details crammed into this past year…

It was fun to look at—a combination of learning how he was remembering this past year, and well as giving us a conversation starter to talking about his personal history.  It gave us an opportunity to remind him that he has every right to share (or not share) his past, with his classmates and to remind him that we are always ready to listen as well.  Sometimes these assignments are just what we need!  smile

Posted: 05 February 2011 11:43 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  11

One suggestion is to ask the teacher about doing a caring tree instead (it needs to be a choice to the whole class). With divorces, stepparenting and adoption this assignment might make it easier for many kids. Many children are closer to fictives (people not biologically related but serve as a bio p[erson like grandparents who are really neighbore, aunts who are really mom’s best friend etc)
Another idea is to make a tree with the roots being birth family and the tree being adoptive family. has a book on adoption and the schools which you might want to look at.
I have trained teachers re adoption (about 100) and asked for the goals and objectives of the family tree assignment but so far I have no idea why this is such a popular assignment. Does anyone know the goal?
Years ago in the 70s my friend had a professor in college who said never assign a family tree you never know who has a horse thief hanging there.
Some children refuse to do it, others seem fine with it. Like allissues in adoption I think it depends on the child

Posted: 06 February 2011 05:31 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  40

Those are all great points and good suggestions!

Posted: 06 February 2011 10:14 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  8

I like the roots/tree idea!  Very cool….

Posted: 13 March 2019 06:06 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  1

Is this still somewhat of a taboo in schools? Or do teachers have a prepared solution for this situation nowadays?

Posted: 13 March 2019 09:39 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  11

I still hear parents talking about it. I guess it depends on the school