Pandemic and Post-pandemic Tips
Children everywhere have been through a tough two years when it comes to their education. Virtually every child has been impacted by loss of direct instruction time, having to learn online rather than in-person, and in general, having to fly by the seat of their pants as the pandemic rules have come and gone and changed.
We adults have been impacted as well, but for children the losses can spell big gaps in their understandings. Traditionally the extended family has taken part of the responsibility of educating the young ones. This is a great time to step up and help support your grandkids’ learning.
You are one of the greatest resources available to help fill in the gaps in your grandchild’s education. You can share your enthusiasm for their learning in many ways.
Spending time with children is one of the best gifts you can give them. Whether you spend time doing lessons or just taking a nature walk and identifying trees, flowers and birds, you’re teaching. Children are sponges for information and they also respond to your enthusiasm about any topic of learning. Remember it’s not the specific factual information that’s important, but that the grandchildren learn how to learn. You can show them that learning happens any time we pay attention and enter into a discussion or receive information. The time you spend with your grandkids can be important times of learning.
Even on fixed incomes most grandparents find it a joy to invest in the lives of their grandchildren. That means spending to buy quality gifts, taking the grandkids to places of learning such as museums and concerts or plays. Paying for music lessons or painting classes are ways to enrich the lives of our grandkids.
We grandparents grew up in times when life was more hands-on. We did our own cooking and cleaning, our own oil changes and car washes. You probably know how to do things that your grandkids would love to learn. In the old days young ones apprenticed themselves to learn a trade. You can provide similar lessons in everyday tasks that you pass on. Teach them to bake and change a tire, how to keep a checkbook or how to plant and care for a garden. Your expertise will be invaluable to them in later years.
Engagement and Awareness
Sometimes we limit our interactions with our grandchildren to attending their ball games or school plays. Those things are wonderful and we should continue to do them, but it’s even better to take the next step and reach out to them with your skills and understandings. Read books together and discuss the content. Help them with tricky skills such as long division or working with fractions. Sit down and learn to play the guitar together. Invest your time and energies by engaging with them on a deeper level. What do they need to learn? What do they care about?
Even if you have a long-distance relationship you can engage with their learning needs via video chats, e-mails and so forth. If you reach out and learn what they love, you can share that love with them. If you know what they need to learn—their struggles and areas of weakness, you can step in and offer your help. It’s probably wise to run these efforts by your children to understand any rules or guidelines they’ve put in place, but in general parents will welcome another layer of support for their children’s learning.
Today you read them stories and take them to the park to play, but in a few years their needs will change. Be in the grandparent support game for the long haul. Teens and young adults need love and support just as much as the little ones. Your support may look more like a conversation when the grandkids get older, but it’s just as important as it ever was. And it’s a privilege to be able to be part of their lives for as long as possible.
Remember: Not Only Book-learning
We’ve mentioned before how important it is for children to get a well-rounded education. Much of the world’s knowledge is not found only in books, but in hands-on experiences. What do you know that you can pass on to others? Can you play chess? Bake a mean lasagna? Can you ride a horse or spike a volleyball? Can you speak a foreign language or write a poem? Can you rebuild an engine or knit a sweater?
The point is: share your knowledge and experience with your grandchildren. And in this time when the pandemic has impacted everyone’s schedule, especially the classroom learning schedule, you can help fill in any learning gaps simply by making the effort to review basics with them and shore up any areas of weakness.
Your willingness to support your grandkids’ learning will be beneficial to them and will pay you dividends as well.