I’m sure most people would say one of the most important things to them is ‘family’. Does your little one really understand what family is?
Children are smarter than you think. From a young age, show them visually who is in your family and talk about the relationships. Easily from two, you can start to draw a family tree for them to piece it all together.
You might draw it in front of them so you can talk about the relationships as you go (‘this is mummy’s sister…Lisa!! YOUR sister is Rosie, isn’t it’). Or you might want to have a go at drawing it first as spacing them can sometimes be tricky! Or get your kids to have a go…
Spend time here and there looking at it and talking about all of the people and how they fit in and the different terms, aunt, uncle, grandparents, siblings. You could spend one time just colouring or circling those that are boys/girls/men/ladies. Or talk about their attributes such as Grandma’s curly hair or Lisa with no fringe, depending how good your sketching is to begin with!
One activity I found fun was making a water balloon for each and drawing their face on the front and as a pre-literacy exercise, their name on the back. My son loved to talk about who was who and which one needed to be bigger or which one he’d pop first. All in the name of talking about ‘family’! Of course you could do this with drawings or potato people or drawing a face on each fingertip, just to name a few ideas.
Other ideas for introducing ‘family’ is to comment on who looks like who and that being family means we might look similar or think the same way or like the same things. Be sure to talk about your family name and even write these out so your child can ‘see’ it is the same for everyone (or explain if you haven’t changed your family name). Talk about your address and that this is where your family lives, in your home together. Obviously adjust this for older children. For younger than about two years, start really naming each family member as you see them, take a photo of them and go through them together either in a printed or digital album.
Once your child understands ‘family’, you can begin to have ‘family rules’, such as ‘we take care of eachother’, ‘we try to have dinner together’, ‘we give each other hugs’. You could also compare families (such as, families with grandparents as carers, different numbers of siblings or those that live with extended family) to bring about more social and cultural awareness.
Above all, give as much detail as you can, as I’m sure your little ones will be interested!!