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The lazy days of summer are coming to an end. Your grandchildren are being bombarded by back to school advertising. Their parents are both thrilled to get back into a predictable school schedule and are hanging on to their wallets as they contemplate how to purchase all the clothing and school supplies required.

Grandparents, you’re not made of money, but you probably would like to help ease the burden of back to school expenses. Here are a few ways you can help.


I just mailed a check to my daughter to help her buy school clothes and supplies. My grandchildren happen to live in a location where the winters are long and very cold. The children need heavy winter coats, boots and mittens. They also need gym shoes that have to stay at school. That means they need two pairs—one for school and one for home. That’s expensive. In addition, they need to purchase a long list of school supplies that varies for each age level. That means shopping lists times three. It’s not only expensive, it’s time-consuming. That leads us to another way to help:

Shopping Time

Busy parents are sometimes overwhelmed by the sheer volume of clothing items and school supplies to purchase. They don’t have time to run all over town looking for bargains. But maybe you do. And if your son or daughter is a single parent they are even more thankful for your help.

Visit your local “dollar” stores to find big savings on items such as crayons, pencils, and other school supplies

Go to garage sales or local thrift stores to find items such as good quality jeans, shirts, even boots and shoes.

Find sales on items such as backpacks, lunch pails and notebooks that can be so expensive new.

Go to outlet stores to find items such as good quality coats, boots, gloves, hats.

Search online for bargains on necessary items.

Be aware of families with older children to secure their “hand me downs.”

Drive or Volunteer

Once school begins, if you’re lucky enough to live near your grandchildren, check for ways you can ease the burden of all the school routines. Can you…

Pick the children up from school or drive them to afterschool sports practices, dance classes and the like?

Read with them to build skills and comprehension?

Help with homework?

Volunteer at their school during the daytime?

Show up at their sporting or other events?

Help with school parties or field trips?

You may live far away from your grandchildren, which limits the amount of hands-on help you can give. Here are some ideas for supporting them anyway.

School care packages

I sometimes jokingly send my grandsons their worst nightmare—packages of socks and underwear. I sneak in some other school items or small toys to ease the pain.

Notes of encouragement

It means a lot to children to know their grandparents care about their lives. Send a note of encouragement for the new year. Ask about their activities. Who are their teachers, what after-school activities are they signed up to be part of? What are they excited about?

We all know that our grandchildren will grow up faster than we like. While they’re still in school do all you can to stay connected and part of their lives.