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As September rolls around and the children go back to their school schedules, grandparents can make a difference in the success and self esteem of their grandchildren. Whether we live nearby or far away, there are ways we can become part of the “team” which makes up the support system for our children. In some ways grandparents have an advantage. We have the benefit of having been through it all before as we raised our own children. Now we can step back and be more objective about perceived successes and failures. We may also be able to spot trouble areas and sound the alarm to parents.

One way we can be of support is to be generous with our gifts and funds as the expenses of school supplies, clothes and fees mount up. While every child needs the basics, some children have to forego quality sporting or other after school activities because of their extra expenses. If you can afford to, pitch in to help. Sometimes these activities provide necessary goal setting and character building for children. If you can buy the expensive shoes or pay the participation fees, grandchildren and parents will be grateful and also know you care about their lives.

Another important way to encourage your grandchildren is to pay attention to their grade level, their hobbies, their activities and attend any related performances, games, or presentations as you are able. It is a wonderful thing to see people in an audience who came just for you- it makes you feel loved and affirmed. If you can’t be there in person for such events, be sure to write a letter asking about them or keep record of their events in the form of a scrapbook or journal.

Let the grandchildren know that you care about their academic success. Do they need special help in the form of a tutor? Perhaps you can pay for such a short term aide to get your grandchild the boost he or she needs in a particular academic area.

And finally, celebrate the unique qualities of your grandchildren. Do they have artistic or dramatic ability? Let them know you notice that and find it delightful. Are they good in a certain sport or game? Follow their progress in skills and competition. If your grandchild shows no special interest in anything but the usual computer and video games, perhaps you can encourage a healthier hobby by purchasing the necessary materials or even participating in the activity with them.

The main idea in cheerleading for your grandchildren is affirmation and acceptance. Growing up can be a difficult journey for some children. Knowing that family members and extended family members care enough to ask after them, contribute toward their needs and track their successes is very encouraging. Do you remember those persons who were in your corner as you grew up? If you do, it is now your turn to become that person for your grandchildren. It was a joy to receive, and it will be a joy to give back to the ones we love the most.