Last week I had an enlightening conversation with an extended family member about her homeschooling endeavors…..not with her children, but with her grandchildren. Grandparents and homeschooling could be a wonderful combination for many families!
Our talk got me thinking about how “hip homeschool grandparents” might be a rising trend in the homeschool lifestyle. For one thing, today’s grandparents often seem more youthful and active than they did in the past; often they are eager to be involved in their grandchildren’s lives. Second, more families today have two parents who manage full-time jobs alongside home life. While this doesn’t make a homeschool education impossible, it certainly makes it more difficult to juggle, especially when several children are involved. While such families could (and do) certainly cope with this struggle in any number of ways, enlisting grandparent involvement could be seen as beneficial for everyone.
If you are a grandparent reading this and currently thinking, “No way am I going to teach biology,” that’s okay. Maybe you are even a grandparent who is not totally sure about the whole “homeschool thing.” That’s fine too! The important thing is that, if you want to be involved in your homeschooling grandchildren’s lives and educations, there are several different ways you can choose to do it. This list offers just a few ideas for how grandparents can have an important role in their grandchildren’s homeschool experiences.
The Full-time Teacher
For some families, having a grandparent act as the main “teacher” in their homeschool situation may actually be the best solution. This is especially true if both parents work full-time and the grandparent is eager to be involved. Grandparents who take on this role have to be energetic, patient, and prepared to meet “the Dark Side” of their precious grandkids. This situation may, however, run the risk of causing uncomfortable confrontations with their own children (the parents). For some families, this scenario may not be best. For others, it can be very successful.
The Guest Lecturer
A grandparent in this role might be particularly skilled in math, passionate about writing, or interested in learning a new language alongside his/her grandchildren. This grandparent could be in charge of whichever academic subject that he/she feels most inclined towards. This can also give parents the opportunity to have that block of time free during the week.
The Practical Skills Guru
A grandpa who knows auto mechanics? A grandmother who bakes? For grandparents who are not interested in traditional “school,” sharing their practical skills know-how can be an invaluable teaching contribution. Home economics and carpentry used to be offered in most educational settings. However, practical skills like these run the risk of becoming lost arts today. A grandparent who is a “guru” of some kind of hands-on skill can be an invaluable asset in homeschooling.
Similar to the “Practical Skills Guru,” this role gives grandparents a chance to do something that they may already enjoy—sharing stories about their experiences. In this role, a grandparent could commit to regularly tell a detailed story from his/her past. Such stories give children a unique glimpse into a time that they will never be able to experience first-hand, and even long-distance grandparents can fill this role. Alongside preserving the oral traditional, storytelling provides supplementary knowledge about a wide variety of subjects. Students could even make a writing project or documentary with the stories.
The Bus Driver
It can be stressful getting kids to all of their various sports and hobbies. If a willing grandparent lives nearby, he or she could volunteer to help with transportation. While this not may seem directly related to “a role in homeschooling,” it really is. For one thing, an extracurricular is basically equivalent to an “elective” course in homeschooling. Second, this saves time for parents, who might be able to get some extra grading and planning done. This very practical way of helping out can also develop into a bonding experience over a child’s personal interests.
The Gifting Grandparent
One of the homeschool mothers I talked to recently said that even though her parents didn’t understand their family’s choice to homeschool, they still played a helpful role by sending toys or books that went along with what the children were learning at the time. “The Gifting Grandparent” keeps up with what the grand kids are learning and plans gifts accordingly. This is another helpful role that long-distance grandparents can fill.
Finally, even if a grandparent is unable to be more actively involved in homeschooling, he/she can still be helpful by having a supportive attitude. A demonstration of verbal affirmation about what the children are learning or how parents are teaching is a valuable contribution.
When it comes to their grandchildren, grandparents have so many valuable things to teach, stories to tell, and love to share. Homeschooling provides a unique opportunity to expand the special relationship between grandparent-grandchild into the realm of education. There are many meaningful roles that a grandparent may choose to fill in homeschooling, but any positive form of involvement is sure to be meaningful to every member of the family!
Do your homeschooling students have grandparents who are involved in homeschooling? In what ways are they involved?