Nurture Their Strengths

Usually, as we age, physical strength declines, but grandparents have strength of spirit that the younger generation needs to see. Let your grandchildren help you—invite them to help you. And as they help you (weed the garden, make lemonade, mow the lawn, sew on a button, remember the words to a song you both used to know, etc.), teach them. Thank them for their assistance. Point out to them how much we need each other and what a privilege it is to “be family.”

And nurture their strengths as they mature—those talents, gifts, and special interests God gives them. Encourage them to learn more about how to raise organic vegetables or to increase the efficiency of a six-cylinder engine or to compose a piece of music. As you demonstrate sincere interest in their individuality and their success, they can grow in confidence and skill. Learn together.

Invest financially in extracurricular classes the grandkids want to take, or offer to send them to camp in the summer for a week. When I was homeschooling, I always longed for better school supplies and the funds to enroll my children in special classes that were offered in the community. Perhaps your son or daughter shares that same longing. Why not tuck a twenty-dollar bill in an envelope with a note inviting your son or daughter to splurge and buy that unit study about butterflies that your fifth-grade granddaughter has been eyeing every time she visited the local bookstore? What a joy for everyone that would be!

Nurture Their Minds

As grandparents, you may have many opportunities to offer your time to your grandchildren. When you’re together, engage your older grandchildren in stimulating discussions about current events. Invite them to introduce you to some of the latest gadgets that have you stumped—but are literally “child’s play” to them.

Gather extra materials to make a school topic more interesting; a little research at your local library can reveal some treasures to share. Make something together; watch a movie together. Find out what topics they’re studying and surprise them with a fun, educational field trip that will enhance their studies.

Challenge them to learn new things, and locate people who can teach them new things. For example, if your grandson is learning how to speak Spanish, do some investigating and arrange for him to visit a Spanish-speaking family who has a child his age. Invite the two boys to join you on a picnic at the park, where you’ll assist them both in assembling and having some fun with kites or bottle rockets! Hopefully, they’ll be able to communicate a little as a result of your grandson’s Spanish studies, but if not . . . hey, you can all still have fun as you work on your projects together, right?

Take your grandchildren to new places. They don’t have to be extraordinary places; simply exploring a new place with you can expose them to stimulating ideas and challenge them to learn. For example, contact your local bakery to ask if you can bring two or three of your grandkids over to learn how a bakery functions, and surprise Mom with some freshly baked bread. Ask your mechanic if you can bring your grandchild over to watch him as he works on your car; arrange a field trip to your local dry cleaner—did you know that dry cleaners used to wash clothes with gasoline and kerosene? (My children and I learned that when we went on a field trip to our local dry cleaner.) Learn together! You could even start a “grandparents of homeschoolers” support group and open a whole new world of opportunity to the homeschooling families in your community!

Love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and demonstrate your love for Him by investing in the lives of your grandchildren. You’ll be glad you did.

Donna Rees is the Managing Editor of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. She and her husband Timus homeschooled their two (now adult) children from 1983-1999 and . . . would do it again in a heartbeat! Donna loves to grow in the grace and knowledge of her Lord, Jesus Christ; take long walks on sunny days; enjoy her sweet family; and eat chocolate of any kind, any time. Donna says: “Through TOS, the Lord has given me the privilege of coming alongside homeschooling families as they carry out their God-given responsibility to train, guide, protect, and educate their children. What a delight it is to serve, encourage, and equip others to do the same for the glory of God.”

Publication date: July 16, 2012