Grandparents have the ability and responsibility to help grandchildren become successful learners.
It seems like yesterday. You heard you were going to be a Grandparent. You were excited and totally in love with the idea. Or maybe you weren’t – after all, you surely don’t FEEL like a Grandma.
But there you were – faced with a bundle of sweet-smelling, soft-skinned, tiny, helpless baby. Your heart melted, your eyes softened, and your Grandparent love was stirred to life.
You’ve watched them grow. They seem to change and look much older each time you see them. Walking, talking, listening, playing, coloring, and asking questions, having opinions. They are kids now.
And then it happens. Five years have passed and that baby is ready to step away into a brand new world. Kindergarten. How did this happen? Diapers are gone, preschool is in the past, a new adventure awaits.
Oh, boy! You aren’t alone in this boat. My granddaughter starts school soon, too. I’ve been looking for ways that grandparents can help their grandchildren with the whole school thing. Whether starting Kindergarten or High School, there are things you can do to help your grandchildren become successful learners.
Always talk positively about the school experience.
Talk it up! Going to school is great! It’s an opportunity to learn, grow, experience, and become a better person. What are they looking forward to about going to school? Tell them about the great teacher you had in 3rd grade and how much you learned from her. Talk about fun things you did at school and the things that you remember about the way it was “back in your day”. Discuss the positive things, discourage talk of the negative. If children see that school was a positive experience for you and that you value your own education, it will foster a positive attitude in them as well
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The most successful students are readers. Reading for enjoyment increases vocabulary. It exposes kids to other worlds, ideas, and experiences. Reading opens the mind to possibilities. It expands the knowledge and makes for a better, well-rounded student. Start reading with your grandchildren when they are babies and continue as they grow. Have a shelf or basket with books for them to read with you when they visit. If they live far away, make a video of yourself reading a story and put it on You-Tube or send it to them. (My grandkids LOVE watching You-Tube videos!)
Offer to help with homework or projects as you are able.
This probably won’t be a possibility on a regular basis, but offer to help with homework or projects as you are able. Occasionally, when Mom & Dad are short of time, or you happen to be babysitting on a night where homework is required, offer to lend a hand. Maybe you’re great at science and could help with a science project. Or crafty Grandmas could be available to sew costumes for a play or make decorations for a school party. Let your grandchildren and their parents know you are willing and look forward to being asked to help.
Ask questions about what they are learning, their teachers, their school.
Open ended questions usually get more of a response than yes or no questions. Instead of saying “How was school?”, ask “What did you make in art class this week?” or “What book are you reading now? What’s it about?”. Ask their teachers names, what things they like about them. Ask about their school, where their classes are in the building, where is recess, what do they do for lunch? Getting kids to talk about school is sometimes like pulling teeth, I know. But getting them to talk about school, showing an interest in what they are learning, and taking the time to discuss it with them reinforces the importance you place on their education, and encourages them to become successful learners.
Attend school functions or events when grandparents are invited and welcome.
Some school functions are not really intended for grandparents. But enthusiastically and proudly attend their music program, play, Christmas program, science fair or other events when invited. Taking the time to participate, encourage and show pride in their efforts gives a child confidence, a feeling of accomplishment and a motivation to do well. They will see you in the audience and wave (doesn’t that feel good?). They will know that you care enough to show up for them.
Offer to help in the classroom.
If you are available to help in the classroom, there are many opportunities to volunteer at their school. Ask their parents, teacher, or administrators at the school to suggest ways you could be of assistance. Reading to a class, making or purchasing treats for parties, tutoring kids in subjects where they are struggling, acting as a crossing guard or a becoming a library aide. If you are able, consider volunteering your time to help out at your grandchild’s school. If you work or live out of the area, there may still be things you can contribute. Just ask.Help your Grands be successful learners. Be an involved, interested Grandparent!Click To Tweet
Ask about their friends.
Talking to your grandkids about their friends can give you some insight into their social life. Encourage positive friendships and kindness towards others. Praise actions and comments that show understanding and compassion towards their friends and classmates. Applaud them when they go out of their way to be helpful and charitable to others. A child who learns these skills will grow up to be an adult with a warm spirit and a giving heart.
This is an easy one. Play with your grandkids. Get down on the floor (if you can) and just play! Kids seem to share more when they are relaxed and playing. Play games that build memory like this card matching game or building things together while learning to use tools, cook together and learn to follow directions and use fractions (1/3 cup, 2 teaspoons). Look online to get ideas for experiments. Steve Spangler Science has some really cool ideas for including learning with the fun. Interaction gives you a chance to visit with them while passing on some knowledge disguised as fun.
Talk about careers.
Within your family or friend community, there are people who hold many different jobs. Talk to your grandkids about your own career or job and that of others. Open up the world to kids by showing them the many different opportunities that education affords. Explore the subject by visiting Grandpa at work, visiting a fire station or pointing out people who are working – their teacher, their doctor or the camp director. Exposure to possibilities may allow them to dream about their future in different ways. Talk about the things they enjoy and how that could translate into a career.
Love and support them.
All of these things I’ve mentioned are ways to support your grandchildren and encourage them to be successful learners. Your love and support can make a difference in their lives. Be there, get to know them, develop a relationship of trust. Having a strong foundation of family cheering them on, knowing you are available for them, will allow your grandchildren to be all that they can be.
Their parents have the tough job – buying school supplies, arranging after school care, meeting teachers, helping with homework – the day-to-day support and responsibilities of parenting. Grandparents, on the other hand, get some of the fun jobs. Think about some of the ways you can encourage your grandchildren’s positive view of school, enjoy the process and be successful learners.
Do you have Grands who are returning to school soon or starting for the very first time? Let me hear from you! What are you doing to help them be successful learners?
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