My Adult Children are Homeschooling My Grandchildren – Now What?
Welcome and Happy Grandparents Day (September 12th) to all the grandparents of homeschoolers. You have an opportunity to be a treasured resource to your adult children and their children. Keep reading to find out how.
Almost 20 years ago, I was listening to a radio broadcast on Christian radio and heard the host describe a list of things that were statistically known to help children walk well along their Christian journey. One of the items on that list was “having an adult, other than parents, who spurred them on in the faith”. I encourage you to be that person. And if you are the grandparent of a homeschooler, you have an extra special opportunity.
Understand the Benefits
The homeschool community is growing but still contains only a fraction of school-aged children in Canada. Many parents waffle a bit as they entertain the idea of homeschooling, and it can be a challenge for grandparents too; I encourage you to get on board early. Here is a list of benefits that might help you understand why your children have decided to take this on.
- There is more time to bond as a family
- Children are not immersed in competing worldviews day in and day out
- Families are less reliant on the government
- There is more time available to spend with grandparents
- Increased opportunity for one-on-one instruction
- More time to pursue interests
- Freedom to avoid the hurried pace of the typical school experience
- Children can more easily work at their own pace
If you are still struggling with the idea of your children homeschooling your grandchildren, consider being supportive despite your reservations. Over time you will witness the benefits and may even become an advocate.
The Nuts and Bolts
If you’ve decided to jump in and support your children and grandchildren there are a few key things that would be helpful for you to know.
- Each province and territory in Canada has a different set of homeschooling regulations. Find out what they are in your area.
- Some homeschool families remain connected to the public school system while others are able or choose to be independent of the government. For families connected to the public system, often there are checklists to complete throughout the school year; maybe there is something that you can take on.
- Here is a starter list of common homeschool terms for you to research
- classical education
- charlotte mason education
- unschooling and deschooling
- traditional homeschooling
- eclectic homeschooling
- outdoor/forest/wild schooling
- copywork and dictation
- living books and twaddle
- unit studies
Once you are armed with basic information, you are ready to find out where you can fit in. You have talents, passions, interests, and wisdom to pass on to your grandchildren. Talk about it with the parents to see how you might be able to serve, but be sure to figure out what will work for them; maybe it will be once a week, maybe it will be once a month. I know an involved homeschooling grandma who is planning to teach German to her grands, but the subject matter does not have to be academic in nature. You can pass on your gardening skills, mechanical giftedness, start a book club or a weekly bible study.
There is no shortage of ways to serve a busy family even if you are not interested in teaching. Take the time to figure out what might be a good fit for you. My Mum has been a huge blessing to us over the years. Once a week she came to help with laundry, make dinner, play games, and visit with the children. Those days often became my appointment and errand days, and I was regularly able to take time for phone calls and visits with friends.
What I’ve described so far might seem like too big of a commitment for you or maybe your family is just too overwhelmed, at the moment, to figure out how to include you. Honestly, the smallest gesture can be so helpful. In an attempt to feed my family healthy food, I often found snack time challenging. Making homemade muffins, dropping off a fruit or veggie plate might be just the thing to help your family.
If you have the means, consider helping financially. When a family decides to homeschool, they take on a significant financial commitment, often living on one income and having to purchase all the needed curriculum, lessons, books, and supplies. Offer to pay for a set of swimming lessons, buy the art supplies, or fund a book a month club.
Try to Avoid
A key benefit to homeschooling is the opportunity to develop an individualized education that is tailor-made for each student. Therefore, it is counterproductive to compare one grandchild to another, either within a family or between families. It is completely acceptable to have students who start reading at age 4 and in grade 4.
Avoid using spot quizzes to gauge how well this homeschool thing is working out. Instead, look at the relationships, and the developing character, faith, and love.
Socialization is not something you need to worry about unless your grandchildren never leave the house. If they are going to the grocery store, getting together with other families for walks, hosting visitors in their home, and visiting you, they are learning how to socialize.
Instead of being offended by your adult child’s decision to do something differently from you take it as a compliment; you have raised a brave, courageous, independent, and responsible adult.
Your adult children are pulling a wagon and it contains the vision they have for their family and it’s a heavy load because they have a host of forces that are trying to pull that wagon in other directions. They need you to come alongside and help pull that wagon. Take the time to discover what their vision is and then, even despite not understanding all the parts of the vision, pitch in.
Note to Parents
If your children have a grandparent that helps pull your family wagon in the direction that you are trying to go then Grandparents Day is the day to give them extra praise. They really are a valuable resource.
Thanks to my own sweet Mum. I want to be just like her when I grow up.
by Adrianne Curwen
Adrianne is a wife to a public-school educator/administrator and a homeschooling Mama to seven children, ranging in age from 7 to 23. She believes that we have a unique opportunity as homeschoolers to design individualized education that suits giftings, interests, and passions. She and her husband have used a blend of registered homeschooling, enrolment with independent DL schools, and participation in public trade school programs to design individualized programs for their children. She is passionate about using as many read-alouds, picture books, novels, and conversations to educate her children but also gets excited by the amazing homeschool-designed curriculum that’s out there. Adrianne is thrilled by her new role as Communication Specialist for Classical Education Books and is grateful to have an opportunity to learn something new. She is grateful, every day, for her saviour, Jesus Christ, and has no greater joy than when she sees her most important missions field walk with Him.