Some grandparents react very favorably when they learn that kids will be homeschooled. Some of them even offer to help. Ways that grandparents can help include:
- Remember that your children are trying to do what is best for their kids.
- Be positive and show interest without being judgmental.
- Politely explain that you don’t know a lot about homeschooling, but would be interested in learning. Inquire without interrogating.
- Teach one subject. For instance, once a week teach art, or take kids to an art class.
- Organize monthly field trips: history museums, art museums, the bank, bakeries, restaurants, wildlife preserves, city hall, the state capital, parks or playgrounds, corn maze, cider mills, lava beds, petrified forests, fossil beds, science museums, the theater… There are books available with field trip suggestions.
- Transportation. Assist with transportation to extracurricular activities (this is true whether the kids are being homeschooled or are in public school).
- Gifts. Christmas and birthday gifts, if you give those, could be games or books linked to the kids’ studies. Elementary kids who are studying anatomy might enjoy The Body Game or My Amazing Human Body. Anyone taking music lessons might enjoy Totally Treble or Crazy Eighths. Those who can’t take music lessons might enjoy Music Ace. A great family game is Elemento. Someone studying geography might like World Discovery Deluxe. Electronics kits, chemistry sets…
- Pay for classes. Some grandparents give gifts of music lessons, ice skating lessons, swimming lessons, gymnastics, roller skating, or health club memberships (this, too, is true whether the kids are being homeschooled or are in public school).
- Offer to be the photographer for “school photos.” Use your digital camera, help the grandkids choose clothes, set up an appropriate backdrop, and take pictures of the kids. Then do the work of selecting the best photo of each child, cropping to the right size, collecting money, and placing/picking-up the order.
- Politely inquire about your grandkids schoolwork. Just as you used to ask your own children, “What did you do in school today?” you can ask your grandchildren, “What are you learning about?” or “What’s your favorite subject?”
Grandparents, if you have concerns, address them directly with your child. Be positive and polite. Ask; don’t accuse. If Johnny is seven years old and still hasn’t learned to read, find out if the family is using a “better late than early” approach (some experts advocate waiting until ages 8-10 to teach reading; within a matter of months, kids catch up – and even surpass – those who started reading lessons at age five). Maybe the child needs a different reading curriculum. Maybe the child needs glasses. Or maybe the kids are truant instead of being homeschooled (unfortunately this is true in a small number of cases). Keep the subject focused on your grandchild’s education. Honest inquiry should be welcome. Attacks won’t be. Learn about the educational philosophy they have adopted.