Published with Permission
Written by Joy Kita
When a parent decides to home school her child, they do so with much fear and trepidation. A choice that affects the lives of those closest to you and impacts the future of your family is not one made lightly. It is thought out, planned, and fretted over with endless worry.
Choosing to home school not only puts you in a spotlight you may never have wished for, but it also makes you a target for both well-meaning and ignorant loved ones who are skeptical of your capabilities or even vocally disparaging. With these kinds of obstacles it is ever so important to surround yourself with supportive people who understand your reasoning or who will at least support you in spite of how they perceive your choices.
For many home school families, that support system comes from grandparents. Always a source of unconditional love and acceptance, grandparents offer a unique perspective that awards any child a richer layer of learning that is more meaningful than math equations and grammar. Many grandparents may be initially unfamiliar with the concept of homeschooling, but that need not be a reason to exclude them in the journey. Rather, win them over with the quality of your lifestyle, the character of your children, and the pure joy that comes from teaching at home.
Skeptical grandparents are not necessarily against homeschooling. They work with the knowledge they have and rely on what they know to be true: school worked for them and you, so why rewrite the script? A lack of knowledge translates into fear of the unknown. Often this mindset will change as knowledge is gained. Encourage them to read about homeschooling, invite them to conferences and workshops, and most importantly open your doors and let them experience homeschooling on the front lines.
Many grandparents are concerned that you do not have the capabilities to teach. They may not believe your child will learn from you or that you have the patience to be his teacher, and they certainly will have questions regarding the legal side of things. Be patient with their questions, and try to understand that their concerns about socialization come from a sincere place. Remind yourself that they are not “strangers at the grocery store,” and have the dreaded conversation about negative socialization. Explain how homeschooling fosters communication skills, and then describe your available resources to assure them that quality socializing will occur on a regular basis.
Why It Matters
There is no better way to close the ever-growing generational gap between grandparent and child than to merge the two together with a mutual goal of accomplishing a task or project. Lack of common ground, technology, distrust, and poor communication all serve to widen the gap, but with a guiding hand these challenges can be overcome as real relationship grows.
Perspective–Including the older generation in the learning process changes perspective and offers new and different insights. This provides a multidimensional learning atmosphere that not only challenges biased opinion but also invites healthy debate and establishes a foundation for empathy and mutual respect.
Age Group Integration–Who said children socialize best with twenty-five other human beings the exact same age? Involving grandparents in the home school experience provides a well-rounded learning experience for both parties.
Variety of Skill Sets–As the parent, you have an obligation to teach certain required elements of school, but grandparents have the flexibility to teach as they desire, using passion and wisdom as their guide. Children not only end up learning more, but in fact, they are treated to a specialized curriculum.
Involving grandparents in homeschooling looks different for everyone. The important thing is to reach out and include them. Don’t wait for them to ask, but take the first step and invite them to join your adventure.
Several homeschooling parents share about ways that their parents are enhancing a home school experience:
• “It hasn’t been much so far, as we’re still very new to homeschooling; however, my mom volunteers to come and teach sewing to my two oldest girls. Sewing is something that I could easily teach my own kids; however, we thought this would be beneficial for various reasons. It’s something that my mom is very good at, it gives her an opportunity to be involved, and it teaches my kids that I’m not the only teacher and that you can learn lots from others (especially an older generation). Often the kids will respond to other people teaching them something with more enthusiasm than another thing Mom or Dad is throwing at them.”—Kathryn Minten
•“My mom and dad take the kids on field trips and also have my kids over for sleepovers and school days when I need a break. My mom is super creative, so she does many fun things with them!”—Lauren VanEwk
•“My mom is always teaching something to my kids, whether it is in her conversation or her activities. She bakes with them, does crafts with them, and includes them in her gardening.”—Leshia Jennings
Practical Ways to Win Over the Skeptical Grandparent
• Include them in projects. Working on a history lapbook with the children? Let Grandma help them with the research. Ask Grandpa to aid in building the model for the local science fair. Build birdhouses together. Collect leaves at the park. The ideas are limited only by your imagination and resources.
• Use their skills. Grandparents can teach sewing, art, woodworking, and whatever else suits their interests and hobbies. If you belong to a teaching co-op, ask grandparents if they have a skill they could teach a group of students.
• Invite them to go on field trips. A tour at the post office, a trip to a medieval village, even a fire truck exhibit will get them excited about homeschooling and the variety of ways there are to learn.
• Read good literature together. Find a classic that the children would enjoy, and invite the grandparents over once a week to read a chapter or two, with cookies and tea as a treat afterward.
• Offer hands-on opportunities. Save spelling tests and math corrections for Grandma or Grandpa. This is a nice solution for busy moms who could use the help, and it allows Nana to see the children in action. Use grandparents as an audience during practice of oral reports, speeches, and debates.
Joy Kita is a mother of four and blessed wife of Stan. She has been homeschooling for seven years and is currently the director of a thriving co-op with eighty plus children. She is a fiction author for children, specializing in adventures for boys. She tries to stay motivated by her all-consuming love for the Father.
Copyright, 2012. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine, April 2012. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.