100 Great Questions to Ask Grandparents to Learn Family History
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Where can you learn new things? School, right? That’s a great answer; however, your kids can also learn outside of the classroom – and they won’t have to do any homework!

Next time they visit their grandparents, have them ask questions to learn about how they grew up and what they like and dislike. Those questions can be pretty much anything. We've given you 100 questions to get started! Make sure they grab a pen and paper (or record on their phone) so they can share the stories with you. Or go with them and add your own questions to the mix. You may learn something that surprises you!

Asking Life Questions to Grandparents

Asking grandparents about their lives and their loves should be a fun and rewarding task. People, generally, are quite pleased when someone shows an interest in who they are and what they do. Grandparents, however, may live far away from their family. Familial visits may be few and far between – meaning that children cannot – completely know their grandparents. When children question their grandparents about their own past, they can not only learn much about their family's history, but they can help keep those important family stories alive. Once a grandfather or grandmother is gone, their stories can be gone as well – or at least become far more difficult to recover.

Discussing matters of importance can also benefit grandparents. If grandpa or grandma is showing the early signs of dementia, talking with them can help them retain memories (or even spark new memories) before they are completely forgotten. Getting involved with conversations also helps grandpa or grandma remain social. Science shows that Science shows that socialization improves overall health and wellbeing.

When and where are the best times/places to hold these conversations? Schedule a convenient time and remember that grandpa or grandma may be more alert earlier in the day. If your child will personally meet with a grandparent, choose a private, comfortable, and distraction-free room.

If the conversation is recorded, keep in mind that a room with high ceilings can cause echo. Similarly, an empty room (with limited furniture) can also negatively affect a recording. Make sure that the device used to capture the conversation is placed closer to the grandparent. Their voices may not be as strong as they once were, and their answers may be too faint to hear. Children could also supply a grandparent with a couple of pillows (for support, if needed) as well as a glass of water or juice (for a dry throat).

What are the Best Questions to Ask Grandparents?

Here are 100 questions to ask grandparents to get you started. Ask these questions in any order you like and feel free to add your own!

Growing Up

  1. Where were you born? Could you show me on a map?
  2. When were you born?
  3. What is your full name? Did you have a nickname when you were young?
  4. What was your favorite television show as a child?
  5. What was the first movie you saw in a theater?
  6. What did you do to celebrate birthdays?
  7. What was your first job?
  8. Did you get an allowance?
  9. Did you save it or spend it? When did you open your first bank account?
  10. Were you raised in a certain religion? Are you religious now?

Family

  1. How many siblings do you have?
  2. What are your brother’s or sister’s full names?
  3. What are your parents’ full names?
  4. What were your parents’ careers?
  5. What was the make, model, and color of the family car?
  6. Were you an obedient or misbehaving child?
  7. What was your bedtime as a child?
  8. Did you ever break curfew or sneak out of the house?
  9. Did you have pets?
  10. What were your pet’s names?

School

  1. What were you like during school? (Class clown, shy, etc)
  2. What were you good at in school? Did you have a favorite subject?
  3. Did you study for exams long before they happened or cram the night before?
  4. What were the most popular clothes in school?
  5. What were the most popular toys or gadgets?
  6. Did you play – or want to play – any specific musical instrument?
  7. What sports did you like to play?
  8. What games did you like to play?
  9. Did you participate in any other extracurricular activities like theater, debate, church youth group, etc?
  10. Did you go to college or receive any training after high school? If so, where and what was your favorite part?

Career

  1. How many jobs have you had?
  2. Which was your favorite and why?
  3. What was one of the hardest parts of being in the workforce?
  4. Who was one of your biggest mentors?
  5. Do you have any job advice for me when I start working?

Romantic Relationships

  1. How did you meet your spouse?
  2. What year was it?
  3. What qualities do you remember liking about them?
  4. What was your first date?
  5. When and where did you get married?
  6. How did you propose?
  7. What was your wedding like?
  8. How did you know they were the one?
  9. What was/has been one of your favorite parts of marriage?
  10. What was/has been one of the biggest struggles you've overcome together?

Friendships

  1. How did you meet your best friend growing up?
  2. What did you and your best friend love to do together?
  3. Was there a certain place you and your friends liked to hang out?
  4. How did you make friends as an adult? What did you like to do together?
  5. What’s one of your favorite memories with a friend?

Travel

  1. Did your family go on many vacations together?
  2. What was your best family vacation?
  3. Which countries have you traveled to?
  4. Where is your favorite place you've visited? Why?
  5. Do you have a favorite memory from traveling?
  6. Do you have a scary memory from traveling?
  7. What was the most interesting or unique food or dish you had while traveling?
  8. Who was your favorite travel companion? Why?
  9. If you could visit any place you've already traveled again, where would it be? Why?
  10. Where was the longest trip you've been on? How long did you travel for? What was the occasion?

Military Service

  1. Did you ever serve in the military? If so, what branch?
  2. What years did you serve? Where did you serve? What wars were you involved in?
  3. What was your rank (if applicable)?
  4. What type of work did you perform?
  5. Why did you decide to enlist or were you drafted?
  6. Did you see combat? What was that like?
  7. Were you injured while on duty? How did it happen?
  8. What did you do for entertainment?
  9. Did you keep a diary/keep in touch with your family? Do you still have it?
  10. Did you make any close friendships while in service? Can you tell me about one?

Community Service

  1. Have you/do you participate in any community service? If so, what organizations did/do you volunteer with?
  2. What drew you to these organizations?
  3. How long have you/did you volunteer with them?
  4. What was/is your role in these organizations?
  5. What is a favorite experience you've had with them?
  6. What do you think you got out of these experiences?
  7. How has volunteering made you feel?
  8. Has it changed your outlook on your community?
  9. How do you think your organization has impacted your community?
  10. Are there any organizations you’d like to volunteer or get involved with now?

Life Events

  1. Who has made the biggest impact on your life and why?
  2. What was the most embarrassing thing that happened to you?
  3. What is one of your biggest accomplishments in your life?
  4. What items are on your bucket list?
  5. What’s one of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome?

Holiday Traditions

  1. What’s your favorite holiday?
  2. Do you have any traditions for the following holidays?
    1. Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa
    2. Thanksgiving
    3. Passover/Easter
    4. Halloween
    5. Valentines Day
    6. 4th of July
    7. Others
  3. What are some of your favorite memories from these holidays?
  4. Are there any special dishes you used to/currently make or eat for these holidays?
  5. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? Given?

Favorites

  1. Meal?
  2. Dessert?
  3. Drink?
  4. Color?
  5. Flower?
  6. Singer?
  7. Actor and actress?
  8. Book?
  9. Radio show?
  10. Hobby?

About the Author(s)

As a former co-caregiver, Rick Lauber helped and supported his own aging parents. His mother had Parkinson's and Leukemia and his father had Alzheimer's. Rick learned that caregiving is challenging and used writing to personally cope.

His stories became two books, Caregiver's Guide for Canadians and The Successful Caregiver's Guide.

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