Last night, our little family headed over to the kids’ new elementary school for the Meet-the-Teacher Night. For this former homeschooling family, the experience was a tad overwhelming. As I waded through the long stream of parents and children, I just about high-tailed it back home—supplies and all—to rescind their registration.
I was impressed, however, by the enthusiasm of all three of my childrens’ teachers. Former students squeezed their way in occasionally bearing gifts for their former teachers. Rooms were beautifully decorated, some even having a home-like feel—a much different look from our previous foray into California public-schools (welcome to Texas, y’all).
I admit it—I was pleasantly surprised.
My son’s first-grade teacher had a take-home folder with an outline of her plans for the year, requests for volunteers, and a note that grandparents were welcome to help.
Again, I thought this was a good thing.
So many families have no choice but to be dual-income. With the cost of living rising faster than wages and divorce rates elevated, many parents are unable to volunteer in their kids’ classes. Some parents have to put their kids into after-school care with people they don’t know all that well. Homeschool parents also get overwhelmed, particularly if they have children with developmental, physical or behavioral disorders. Grandparents, retired from full-time work, can play a valuable role in the lives of their grandchildren while providing some much needed help for their children.
If you are a grandparent, here are some important ways to help your children and grandchildren survive the school year:
Your children (the parents of your grandchildren) need heaps of prayer in their training efforts. This world we live in is rather scary (just crack open your internet news feed!) and the hearts of this generation need the cover of prayer. Pray for your children, your grandchildren, and their teachers. Pray also for the Lord to open your eyes to the best ways to be of assistance.
#2: Offer Assistance
Only you know what resources you have at your disposal. You might live far away and possess a comfortable income. You might live near and have limited means. Whatever the case, consider ways in which you can encourage or assist your grandchildren. Here is a list of ways my parents and in-laws have helped us and our siblings:
- Be pen-pals
- Have a regularly scheduled time to be together (Skype & FaceTime are good for those who are far away!)
- Volunteer in their school or help your homeschooler with difficult subjects (if you live nearby)
- Read-aloud time
- Donate a few school supplies (if you have the means)
- Meet your grandkids once a month (or when you visit town) at school for lunch OR take them out/have them over to do something special after school
- Spend time with your grandkids on off-days and be a listening ear
- Make time to be a listener for your children when they are at their wits end with their own difficult child (you may have to suppress a chuckle or two if it sounds eerily familiar…)
- If you live close, perhaps you can pick up the kids from school and provide a couple hours of “after-school care.”
#3: Exercise Wisdom
I have seen a few cases in which grandparents can be more of a hindrance than a help. It’s not easy for any of us in any season of life to know precisely what is helpful or hindering, so be an astute listener and observer. Remember parents, that your kids’ grandparents are still your father and mother so be respectful. Remember, grandparents, that your children are adults with jobs and families so exercise wise judgement.
In other words, remember to be loving and patient with each other, as the Lord commanded!
Be mindful of homework and sleep schedules, perhaps getting a copy from your son or daughter of your grandkids’ school-year schedule. This will help you plan things that don’t interfere with school, homework, etcetera. If you’re not sure, ask! Text or call your homeschooling son or daughter before “dropping by” to see the kids so you don’t implode their lesson plans for the day. Ask them if you can help here or there and be gracious if your offer is refused occasionally.
I have not yet had the opportunity to be a grandparent, as I am still raising my three young children. However, I’ve seen my own parents and in-laws in action, and I am incredibly thankful for all they have done to help us as we struggle to raise our children in the Lord. My own grandparents, on both sides, spent significant time with my brother and I when we were young, creating some great memories.
Grandparents—you are valuable! Do not underestimate the value of what you can provide to your children and grandchildren. May the Lord bless you in this season of life!