Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. 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 Kindle Fire or Apple or Andriod devices.

After more than seventeen years of homeschooling our own children, we now find ourselves in the delightful position of watching our five grandchildren being homeschooled. Our two daughters are responsible for the day-to-day homeschooling, but as grandparents we have an important role to play too. 

What do we do? Well we spray our grandchildren.

Spray?

We live in a world of acronyms, right? Perhaps you still remember the colors of the rainbow because you learned the acronym “Roy G. Biv”: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Everyone makes up simple acronyms to help remember key concepts, and we hoped SPRAY might help you remember five important principles for every homeschool grandparent.

As grandparents without some of the day-to-day responsibilities of parenting, we have time to tell stories; stories about ourselves, and stories from the Bible. We weave our stories in with the lessons and principles of God’s Word, and we actively love our grandchildren by providing them with meaningful character lessons. Yes, it is a continuation of what they receive at home and in Sunday School, but we live in a world where a little extra dose of “character” is always a good idea! So the first letter (S) in our acronym SPRAY reminds us to provide our grandchildren with additional Spiritual input on a regular basis.

The second letter in SPRAY stands for Prayer. We pray for our kids and our grandkids on a daily basis. The Bible tells us that we have an enemy who prowls about and seeks to devour us (and our grandchildren) like a lion. He is the enemy of our souls and the enemy of our grandchildren’s souls. 

In 2011, more than ever, our grandchildren need prayer covering from grandparents who have seen the darkness that continues to oppress families and children. So pray on a regular basis for your grandchildren.

The third letter—R—stands for Resources. As grandparents, we are always looking for interesting enrichment resources, including books, art or craft projects, games, and movies that enrich our grandchildren’s life at home. If those resources happen to go along with whatever they’re studying at the moment that’s even better. 

We are always listening, and if we hear “we were studying clouds today,” then we may notice a great cloud book at the bookstore and buy it for their home library. We enjoy filling in where we can, providing interesting learning helps that enrich their homeschooling experience.

The fourth letter, A, is for Asking. We ask our grandchildren lots of questions as a way to encourage their growth in knowledge and wisdom. We try never to grill our children about how they are parenting/teaching, nor do we grill our grandchildren on what they are learning. Our goal is not to test them or make sure they’re being well educated. 

Instead, we ask questions and watch. We wait patiently for those special moments when there is something wonderful and worthy to praise or admire, and we let them know how proud we are of their choices and their efforts. Keeping encouragement as our goal, we recognize and commend their growth and accomplishments, and at the same time we enrich our relationship with all of them.

We end with the Y for Yield. We make it a point to yield our time and our resources for overnights, meals, and regular times of togetherness with one or more of the grandchildren. Because we travel so much throughout the year, we cannot really be counted on during any given day or week to always be available for typical, consistent babysitting. But when we are available, we plan separate overnights—a special time, one on one, with each of our grandchildren, complete with their favorite games, special breakfasts, etc. We find that during those special times together, we can concentrate on them as individuals, listening more carefully and treating each one as the unique child of God he or she is. At other times we may have them over all together, which produces an entirely different type of grandparenting experience. Group activities can be great fun!

Looking for regular opportunities for spiritual input and praying over our grandchildren are perhaps our most important tasks. But we also take great pleasure in providing enrichment resources, asking them the kinds of questions that allow us to commend their growth and accomplishments, and yielding both our time and our treasure to get to know each child on a more personal level. 

But most of all, we just love our new role as homeschool grandparents! 

Jane and Steve Lambert began homeschooling in 1981. As a result of their homeschooling adventure, Jane wrote Five in a Row homeschool curriculum for ages 4–8 and Before Five in a Row curriculum for ages 2–4. These programs continue to be some of the best-selling curricula in the world after nearly twenty years.

Jane and Steve have been married more than forty years, and their two daughters are both married and enjoying homeschooling the Lamberts’ five grandchildren. They run a busy set of message forums at www.fiveinarow.com, and each year Jane and Steve speak to thousands of homeschoolers at state conventions around North America. They serve today on the board of directors of First Class Homeschool Ministries, and together with their friends Jay and Heidi St. John they conduct Real Life Marriage retreats for Christian homeschool couples whose marriages need strengthening and encouragement.

Publication date: October 22, 2012