FACTS FOR FAMILIES: Learn about family members through family reunions | Health, Medicine and Fitness

CHERI BURCHAM Family Life Educator

Summer can be a great time for family reunions and connecting with family members.

Extension educator Judy Schmidt created this great article about how seeing family members face-to-face is especially meaningful this year given the obstacles we’ve faced in recent years with the pandemic.

Judy points out that it takes some intentional planning to create sharing opportunities among family members. Michigan State University Extension shares great meeting resources to promote sharing among family members.

Create fun name tags. Make the name tags colorful and include a quiz that you prepare ahead of time or have them write on the day of the event. Why name tags? While you may remember all of your cousin’s children, aunts and uncles, some may not. Name tags break an initial barrier of “how are we connected?” and facilitate conversations.

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Story starters. Place a basket of story starters on tables with open-ended questions for everyone to share. Ask yourself if you would feel comfortable answering the question because you don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable answering a story. Some story starter suggestions include:

  • Tell us about the transition to first year. Where do you live? Who were your friends?
  • What’s your favorite dinner to enjoy on your birthday? What’s your favorite birthday dessert or treat?
  • Growing up, what were your favorite vacations or family get-togethers?
  • What do you remember about your grandparents or another significant elder or adult?
  • Today, do you have any pets? Did you have pets growing up?

Points on a world map or globe. Ask everyone to dot where they live or lived. Look at the migration of families.

Additional pictures. When the family reunion is announced, ask everyone to bring additional or old photos. Use the photos as table decorations, then invite members to take the extra photos home. Take advantage of this by identifying people by baby photos, etc.

Judy Schmidt’s Connection Corner blog is available at extension.illinois.edu/blogs/connection-corner

For more information about University of Illinois Unit 19 programming and to read more helpful articles, visit our website at https://extension.illinois.edu/ccdms, call us at 217-345-7034 or contact Cheri Burcham at [email protected] edu Also visit the Family Files blog at https://extension.illinois.edu/blogs/family-files

Cheri Burcham is the Family Life Educator at U of I Extension.

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