Time. It disappears so quickly! Busy homeschooling parents perpetually need more of it! But with only 24 hours in a day … and we have to set aside some of those hours for sleep … the next-best solution is to get extra help.
Grandparents, whether they live locally or long-distance, can have a huge impact on their grandchildren!
The qualifications: someone who loves and cares deeply about our children.
The solution: Grandpa and Grandma!
Those beloved titles include “surrogate” Grandpas and Grandmas for those families who may not have living grandparents. Every child needs a grandparent figure in his/her life.
Let’s face reality. Sometimes Grandpa and Grandma are thrilled that their grandchildren are being homeschooled. Sometimes they’re ambivalent. And other times they are just plain opposed. But they all share the same passion — loving those grandchildren, wanting the best for them, and desiring to be involved in their lives.
With that in mind … involving Grandpa and Grandma, even in seemingly small ways, is the best means to get help for overloaded parents, while giving grandparents a peek into what home education really is and deepening those grandparent-grandchild relationships.
But what can grandparents really DO?
The possibilities are endless, but grandparents can get started by asking the parents what educational things they would like to do but don’t have time to do well, or to do at all, because of heavy demands. Here are some ideas to get grandparents started:
Compile a portfolio for each grandchild.
This is simply a scrapbook of a child’s educational journey. Fill it will photos of field trips, samples of their writing, tests, anything that documents what they have learned and experienced each year.
In some states where laws require documentation of homeschooling progress, portfolios can be used for that purpose as well. Multiple copies may be created as wonderful keepsakes for the parents, grandchildren and grandparents.
Attend a Teach Them Diligently convention, even if you have to travel.
You cannot fathom what a valuable experience this is until you’ve attended! You’ll capture the vision that your children have for home education and home discipleship. You’ll be inspired by dozens of multifaceted workshop topics.
For those of us who grew up with only one curriculum choice — whatever the school provided — you’ll be positively amazed by the hundreds of curriculum and creative resources available in the exhibit hall. It’s also a great opportunity to be a blessing to your family by helping to purchase educational items the grandchildren really need. This year, there are TTD conferences in Washington, D.C., Nashville, Dallas and Spartanburg. Look for Grandparents of Homeschoolers™ speaker workshops and/or exhibit booths at all four conventions.
Attend homeschooling support groups meetings and field trips in your local area.
Grandparents add a unique flavor to these groups and homeschooling parents love their participation and ideas. Most support groups require parents to plan a field trip for the group during the school year. This is something grandparents can do that will be fun for them and relieve pressure for the homeschooling parents.
If your grandchildren live in another city or state, attend some local support group meetings anyway. You’ll get lots of ideas and insights you can use with your own grandchildren, plus local connections with others grandparents whose grandchildren are being homeschooled.
Help correct and grade papers.
This is REALLY time-consuming for parents. When grandparents take on this task, even for one subject, it not only helps parents, but also helps grandparents keep abreast of what their grandchildren are learning and gives them an opportunity to reinforce or re-teach concepts the grandchildren got wrong on tests.
The idea of home education isn’t just to count mistakes and issue a grade and move on, like most of us grew up doing, but to actually learn the material. The goal is mastery. Grandparents can be instrumental in helping their grandchildren achieve mastery!
Teach a skill you know, in person or via Skype, or even by telephone or email.
One grandma taught her grandchildren to play piano via telephone! No, not a telephone with Skype or FaceTime. A regular, old-fashioned, hold-in-your-ear telephone with voice only. Distance doesn’t matter, Grandpa and Grandma. Get creative and pass on your talents because you have so much to offer!
Even better than giving money is to pay for something tangible so the grandchildren will know that Grandpa and Grandma paid for their … piano lessons, foreign-language lessons, microscope, computer, Bible program, science camp, zoo membership. The ideas are unlimited.
Help your grandchildren write a business plan and start a business.
Learn the process alongside them. Entrepreneurship is the best preparation for the future, whether that be the business world, ministry and missions or managing a household. Starting a business is time-consuming, but it enables children to learn every academic subject under the sun in a hands-on fashion — from management and marketing, to product development, packaging, warehousing, public relations, sales, finance and much more.
Teach them to drive.
Put in those hours that busy parents find so elusive. And while you’re at it, teach auto care and repair because that’s part of the responsibility that goes with the privilege of driving. Blend in geography and map skills so those novice drivers know how to get back on track if they take a wrong turn.
Make it fun! Give them directions to a “mystery location” that turns out to be their favorite ice cream shop, and enjoy some extra-special time together to celebrate a successful driving lesson!
Augment the parents’ spiritual discipleship by reading hymn stories to the grandchildren (the history behind the writing of each hymn) and then learn to sing it together.
In an era where the great hymns of our faith sometimes take a back seat or are totally eliminated in worship services, the richness of those hymns is something grandparents can help bring back to the youngest generation. Discuss the circumstances and faith of the hymn writers and relate it to circumstances your family is experiencing.
Search out what Scripture teaches and what Scriptures are used by the hymn writers. Encourage the grandchildren to always put their faith in Christ, not people or circumstances. (Grandparents can engage in this type of discipleship in person, by telephone or via Skype. Hymn stories can be purchased in book form or read free online.)
Map out a family tree with the grandchildren.
Grandparents remember more family history, going back further in time, and they know all the interesting stories to go with the people! This is a perfect opportunity for grandparents to teach good character traits to the grandchildren by relating the good, the bad and the ugly, and showing how the bygone generations behaved, based upon their faith in Christ or rejection of Him. You’ll laugh together, cry together and make irreplaceable memories together.
Help the grandchildren create surprise handmade gifts for their parents.
Young ones can’t go out secretly shopping for craft parts but grandparents can! What a blessing it will be for children to give and parents to receive a handmade item that the children never could have done without help from Grandpa and Grandma!
Write a book together!
Grandpa and Grandma can write the intro paragraph for a short story and send it to their grandchild who writes the second paragraph. Snail-mail or e-mail the story back and forth, with Grandpa/Grandma and Grandchild adding more to the story each time until it is finished. Help your grandchild perfect the spelling and grammar.
Then go online to a photo-book company and arrange the text, along with photos and original artwork, creating a book co-authored by Grandpa, Grandma and Grandchild. Order multiple copies as a keepsake for all. Grandpa and Grandma: By doing this, you will have taught your grandchildren a variety of academic skills — creative writing, art, language/grammar — and best of all, you will have made learning fun!
Remember, Grandparents, you are an integral part of your grandchildren’s education, and it’s so helpful, and so much fun for the family, to have you involved! Come to a Teach Them Diligently conference in 2014 and learn how to be that grandparent extraordinaire to your homeschooled grandchildren!
Rich and Barb Heki are the founders and directors of Grandparents of Homeschoolers,™ a new international ministry whose mission is to encourage, inspire and equip grandparents to support, engage in and delight in the home-education adventure of their grandchildren.
As veteran homeschooling leaders, parents of four adult children whom they home-educated, and now grandparents, the Hekis are delighted to minister to and serve families by helping grandparents get involved in the home education and home discipleship of their grandchildren. A variety of resources, including blog articles, may be found on their website: www.GrandparentsOfHomeschoolers.org