As a grandparent, you love nothing more than being with your grandchildren. Any excuse to spend time with the grandkids is a good one, even if that involves taking a lead role in your grandchild’s education. And throughout the COVID-19 pandemic (and even prior), grandparents have been stepping up when it comes to their grandchildren’s education.
Though schools are now open for in-person instruction, many parents remain apprehensive about sending their kids for reasons that include outrage over vaccine and mask mandates, outrage over the lack of vaccine and mask mandates, COVID learning loss (public school students lost between 4 and 11 months of learning), the stressful back-and-forth of hybrid learning, and the subpar quality of remote education that students experienced over the past 18 months.
Combine that with the fact that so many families consist of two working parents, and you’ve got more parents of school-age children asking their own parents to help teach the kids–and grandparents are coming through in a big way!
If you’re not teaching your grandchildren at the moment, you might be soon! But don’t worry–you don’t need to have a teaching degree or be an expert on certain subjects. You just need to love your grandchild and be the source of wisdom and inspiration that you already are.
My own mom added a level of wisdom, creativity, and insight into the kids that my husband and I didn’t have. She saw things in them we didn’t see. And my mom challenged me to embrace my strong-willed child and not squash those qualities in her. In fact, she did things with her grandchild to nurture those qualities.
If you do find yourself promoted to head professor at your grandchild’s homeschool, take a deep breath and remember…you can do this! Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started:
- Don’t sweat the schedule. It’s not unusual to have a fluctuating schedule early on. But you will find your rhythm. The best advice? Stick it out and work your way around whatever hurdles get in your way. Sure, it’s nice to have a set, consistent schedule every day…but one of the true benefits and beauties of homeschooling is the flexibility it offers. Go where the day takes you, even if it’s somewhere unexpected. Those often turn out to be the best days for you and your grandchild.
- Know your grandchild. Of course you know your grandchild, but do you know how he or she learns best? Or what his or her interests are? If not, find out! For example, is your grandchild the type who is content calmly listening to you tell a story? Does she ask a lot of questions? Does he prefer to explore on his own? These kinds of questions can help to define the best kind of learning approach for your grandchild and set them up for success. Knowing your child’s academic level is also critical; many homeschool instructors make the mistake of simply purchasing curriculum that is aligned to their child’s chronological grade level. This approach, however, may not align with what your grandchild already knows–the curriculum may prove to be either too hard or too easy. Understanding their learning style and academic level will go a long way toward establishing a successful homeschool classroom.
- Organize! It may seem obvious, but maintaining a clean and organized learning space is key to homeschooling. Create a space in your home or your grandchild’s home that’s dedicated to school–it can be anywhere, but it should be equipped with a bookshelf, some storage for supplies and books, and some surface space for schoolwork or projects and activities.
- Be willing to go off-script. Sometimes you just want to stay focused on the day’s plan…but that’s not always reality. And that’s OK. Every now and then you’ll encounter a topic that fascinates your grandchild. When you reach that moment, make it a point to veer off-track a bit to nurture that passion. Whatever the topic is, see where and how you can help your grandchild acquire more knowledge–at the library, a trip to the bookstore, or even a trek to the couch for a Netflix documentary. However you choose to do it, encourage that love of learning–you never know if that topic or subject will turn into a career choice or hobby. You can always start on the next thing tomorrow.
- You’re not alone! Having a homeschool partner, like Bridgeway Academy, working in tandem with you takes much of the burden off of your shoulders. These types of academies can help you choose the perfect curriculum, handle grading and records, and offer the support of an experienced academic advisor who is ready to help you and your grandchild throughout the process. Bridgeway, for example, models their programs around each child’s specific learning style, which sets them up for academic success. And don’t be afraid to work some supplemental learning into each day. Elephango, for one, is an amazing online learning resource that offers more than 3,000 lessons for K-12 students–each personalized to every child’s specific learning style to spark curiosity and build confidence.
More and more grandparents are taking an active role in their grandchild’s education, whether that involves actual instruction, being there for support, or simply keeping an eye on the student to ensure he or she is following along with the lesson. If you find yourself in that position, embrace it! It’s a wonderful situation for both you and your grandchild that offers more time spent together and the opportunity for them to use you as a knowledgeable source of help and wisdom.