Helping Hands: Grandparents as Part of Your Homeschool

December 24–28, 2012   |   Vol. 114, Programs 31–35

Whether your parents are academic types or not, chances are they have some field of expertise that they can share with their grandchildren. Find out how to encourage them to participate in teaching your kids, and hear specific ways other homeschool parents have done that on this week’s edition of Home School Heartbeat with Mike Smith.

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Here’s want an English nobleman once wrote about his grandmother and when she taught him. He said, “being pretty on the inside means you don't hit your brother and you eat all your peas.” Well, today on Home School Heartbeat, Mike Smith suggests some great reasons—besides getting your kids to eat their peas—to involve grandparents in your kids’ education!

Mike Smith: Kids learn speech, behavior, and more by imitating others. This means it’s critical that parents put positive influences into their children’s lives.

So, perhaps the most important role a grandparent can play in the lives of your children is that of a role model. Mary might draw inspiration and encouragement from the fact that Grandma has lived long enough to see so many prayers answered. Tom can see how Grandpa treats Grandma with respect, and learn that real men treat women well.

Quality time is essential to building a relationship that will allow your parents to share their wisdom and experience with your children. How about setting aside specific times for your children to go over to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, or to chat on the phone if your parents live further away? This time is an investment. You are giving your children the opportunity to learn from men and women of faith who have discovered the secret of life well lived!

If the grandparents in your kids’ lives can’t or don’t want to be involved, consider searching for an older couple in your church who can come along side your family and be that well of wisdom and experience both you and your children need. Remember, its love, not blood that counts!

Next time, we’ll hear firsthand how one homeschool family got their grandparents interested and involved in the homeschooling process. And until then, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Today, we’ll hear from long-time homeschooling dad and homeschool leader, David Monk. Welcome to the program, David!

David Monk: Hi, Mike! It’s good to talk to you.

Mike: David, your parents’ and your in-laws’ involvement seems to have greatly enriched your family’s homeschooling experience. Was there some initial hesitation from your children’s grandparents when you and your wife chose to homeschool? And how did you successfully address any of those concerns?

David: Well, yes, you’re right when you say that the grandparents in our children’s lives have really enriched their experience. There’s nothing that our kids love better than showing grandma and grandpa their latest report, essay, first grade math book, or even now their SAT test scores.

Our parents were not totally excited about our decision to homeschool at the beginning. But they came around. Both grandmas were teachers, so they were quite discriminating. And we would do things like invite them to our homeschool activities, we’d show them Iowa Test scores. We used the same curriculum that my mom used in her private school for some subjects, and one particularly fun thing we did during holidays was let the kids show off their learning by reading something that they had written. We made extra effort to also explain to them the vision behind our homeschooling. We invited them to our homeschool convention and they could see that we are not alone.

But you know what finally cinched it, frankly, was watching our success. Nothing wins the hearts of grandparents better than bright, respectful, and pleasant grandchildren.

Mike: Well David, thank you for that tremendous insight today! And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike: Today, we get to hear from Valerie Monk. Welcome to the program, Valerie!

Valerie: Mike, glad to be here.

Mike: Valerie, how did you persuade your parents to become involved in the homeschooling process, and how has that impacted your children’s’ homeschool experience?

Valerie: Well, in the beginning, both sets of grandparents worked and lived about an hour away. So we started sending our young children’s paragraphs and stories to them by mail. The grandparents loved them, and even started writing back to each child. Even now, they eagerly await our older teens’ high school and college essays. We also invited them to our history fairs and talent shows, where they could serve as judges or coordinators, and to the end of the year celebrations, where they could see the children’s schoolwork and accomplishments.

When my parents moved closer, they hosted several high school biology and chemistry labs in our homes for our children and their friends, although we did most of the teaching ourselves. Even my father did my high school son’s labs in his garage where he has a small machine shop. He’s also been the driver for several classes and co-ops.

Our children began to see that it wasn’t just mom and dad who were interested in this education thing, and our children and their grandparents have developed a close relationship, where they really know each other.

Mike: Valerie, thank you so much for sharing with us today! And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Today, we’ll hear from Becky Butler, an experienced homeschooler who is now also a grandmother. Becky, welcome to the program!

Becky Butler: Thank you, Mike, and thank you so much for all Home School Legal Defense has done for all of us all these years.

Mike: Well, you’re very welcome. Becky, are there hobbies that grandparents may already pursue that would be fun for their grandkids to participate in? What are a few other basics: academic activities grandparents can do with their grandchildren?

Becky: Well, my husband is a can-do, always-doing kind of man, and Phil takes every moment as a teaching moment with both children and grandchildren. He—if he’s building a birdhouse, if he’s repairing a part on a dishwasher, he pulls the children over and shows them how it works, or where to cut.

For myself, we both love identifying plants and animals, so our Audubon books are always out with the grandchildren, and it’s really sparked an interest in their hearts for the natural beauty that we have around us. I think that grandchildren, and young children especially (maybe older children, too), feel very important when we include them on the things that we enjoy doing.

Mike: Well Becky, that’s very creative—I really appreciate that. Until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Becky, can you tell us how you’ve managed to actively engage in your grandchildren’s education, while leaving space for the parents as the primary teachers?

Becky: Well, first of all, in the years past, I’ve had what I would call a little co-op class at my house, and we did hands-on things like, we did the life size cut-out of the human body and put in our organs, we did the days of creation in notebook, and so those were things we did in years past. This year, I’m actually loving homeschooling more than I have in years, because I’m teaching a co-op, and I’m teaching social studies. I take Ethan, our oldest grandson, and bring him home with us for two days of the week to do social studies homework and that frees Christa to do the first-, second-, and third-graders. And on Mondays when I take five of her children to co-op, she has time for housekeeping, preschoolers, and bookkeeping. So, I just try to stay involved and see how I can help.

Mike: Well, you need a lot of energy to do what you’re doing, and we really appreciate you sharing this with our listening audience. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

David and Valerie MonkDavid and Valerie Monk

David and Valerie Monk are the proud parents of five girls and six boys ranging from 3 to 26 years old. They have homeschooled since 1990 after Valerie decided not to return to her engineering career but to focus her efforts on educating and training their children. The three oldest daughters have graduated from homeschool, seven are currently homeschooled, and their toddler will keep them going for another 15 years! Because of their love of homeschooling, they have served on the AFHE Board of Directors since 1994 as Convention Directors where they have sought to share the joys and vision of homeschooling with other parents. In addition to his service at AFHE, David works as a research and development semiconductor engineer and manages to teach piano and several high school classes to his children.

Becky Butler

Becky Butler is a veteran homeschool mom and grandmother who lives in the country outside Huntsville, Alabama. Since she met a large family as a child, she always wanted to have a lot of kids. Having seven children made for a very busy life, but now she feels busier than ever! Becky teaches in the local co-op and helps her children with her grandchildren from time to time, remembering how as a younger mother she liked to get away with her husband, Phil, or just go to the store empty-handed. The Butler family enjoys country living with Field Day in the fall, family gatherings, or just having a friend over to drink lemonade on the porch and enjoy fellowshipping around the Lord’s goodness.

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