Webster’s Dictionary says that a grandparent is a parent of a parent. The thesaurus states that a grandparent is an ancestor. But in today’s world, a grandparent doesn’t have to be biologically related to have the title of Grandma and Grandpa. Whether biological or non-biological, grandparents have a special place in children’s lives, in their hearts, and even in their educations.
When I asked some children for words to describe their grandparents, they came up with this varied list: interesting, helper, fun, loving, caring, good listener, expert, encourager, smart, and old.
Webster’s Dictionary says that a garden is a place for growing vegetables, fruits, or flowers—a place of beauty. Let’s substitute a few of those words. Home education is a place for teaching, loving, and nurturing children. Like a garden, children need special care so that they will learn and grow into lifelong learners. Although a gardener can keep the garden environment alive and growing, by adding extras such as fertilizer, plenty of sunshine, and ample amounts of water, the garden will hopefully prosper.
It is the same with the educational environment. And who better to add the extras to the homeschooling setting than grandparents (or even an aunt, uncle, or family friend)?
So what are the extras that grandparents can add to the education of their grandchildren? Field trips; games; nature walks; music lessons; sewing lessons; hands-on experiences with building, cooking, and fishing; science experiments; visits to museums; lots of hugs, and more. Even when grandparents do not live near enough to be physically involved, the internet allows connections that would otherwise be impossible.
Besides adding extras, the gardener needs to be continuously on the lookout for weeds and critters that might harm the garden. Homeschooling parents must also be on guard for comments or criticisms that might negatively impact the home learning environment. To head off conflicts before they happen, cooperation is necessary within the extended family.
Have children reach out to family members who have doubts about homeschooling and share what they are doing and learning. They might perform a play, read a poem or story they wrote, ask for advice on a project, ask for prayer, or just share their pure joy of learning. If you find yourself receiving negativity from family members, continue with your plan knowing that you’re doing what’s best for your children.
Sometimes a gardener must check with experts to solve problems with the plants. Like the gardener, a parent might need advice from a wise grandparent who may have experience with a specific topic. It might even be helpful to just bounce ideas off an older and more experienced person. And when you need an expert on a certain topic, a grandparent is often the one to jump right in.
Does Grandma know how to sew, crochet, or play the piano? Does Grandpa enjoy building birdhouses, fishing, or playing golf? We know that all education does not come from a book or a tablet. We want our children to be well-rounded, and grandparents are often able to fill the roles of educators in charge of the skills needed for this comprehensive education.
Finally, a garden can bring pure enjoyment to visitors of this beautiful area. While your overall objective in homeschooling is to give your children the best possible education that will help them follow God, dream their dreams, continue to learn, and be the best they can be, their education should also bring children, parents, and grandparents a sense of peace and enjoyment.
Need some ideas? The following is a list of activities for grandparent involvement that will nurture the garden and promise a bountiful harvest:
- Pray for each other
- Do a Bible study
- Share information on a specific topic
- Read and share books
- Plan and execute field trips to local attractions
- Substitute teach when a parent is unavailable
- Plant, grow, and harvest a garden with the children
- Help with difficult math problems
- Play board games
- Do puzzles
- Plan, cook, and serve a meal
- Share the family history
- Write a family history
- Teach basic skills and complete a sewing project
- Observe and research insects or other animals
- Attend a sporting/performing event
- Take pictures or make videos
- Continuously encourage learning
- Offer advice when asked
- Share any other expertise
Involving grandparents in the homeschooling environment is such a blessing for children, parents, and grandparents. Include them as often as you possibly can—even if virtually—and watch your garden/homeschool thrive.
Judith Holbrook, a retired teacher with thirty years of teaching experience, has taught all the elementary grades in her career. She holds a BS in education from Eastern Illinois University and an MS in early childhood education from the University of West Georgia. Judith has published Daily Reading Practice for grades 1–8; You Can Picture It; Focused Writing: An Elementary Approach; Reading Plus: Building Strong Readers; and helped develop the elementary segment of Daily Grammar Practice. You can learn more about Judith and these helpful materials at www.dgppublishing.com.
Copyright 2021, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the author. Originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms. Read The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com, or download the free reader apps at www.TOSApps.com for mobile devices. Read the STORY of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and how it came to be.