Homeschoolers Need Grandparents (And Grandparents Need Grandchildren)

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There must be thousands of families that would remove their children from public schools in order to homeschool them, if the parents had a better support system within their extended family unit, and especially if that support came from the grandparents of the children.

I hear from grandparents who fervently hope that their children decide to homeschool the grandchildren; who would love to be invited to be a part of the process.

I hear from young parents who wish that they could homeschool but feel that they cannot live on one paycheck. Many fear that they lack the skills to school their children, growing up as they have…themselves undereducated victims of the State school system.

Let us all help these two groups to communicate, cooperate, and coordinate schedules in order to promote homeschooling in as many families as possible; as absolutely soon as possible. Grandparents will know how to handle schooling for they were educated in a different era — one that valued scholarship, quality, and competence. Parents realize that they missed much in school as they often struggle to read, to spell, to write, to understand the confusion in today’s world. Parents want the best for their children, and who could possibly love those children, and also want the very best for them, as much as the parents? Why, the grandparents, of course! (Absolutely NOT the State!!)

Maybe this generation of grandparents has taken off to Florida, Arizona, Mexico…not so much for carefree retirements filled with bocce ball, card parties, shuffle board…but because they no longer feel needed or wanted in our modern family constellations. If so, it is time to reprioritize family values and call upon grandparents to assist in the homeschooling of children.

In the past, grandparents played integral roles in the rearing of children. The grandparents often lived with, or very near to, their children. The grandparents could tend, teach, and love the grandchildren, while they instilled values of the past, and freed the parents to work, either on the family property or on the property of others. Continuity in family structure and beliefs could be maintained and nourished.

Consider a modern family that sees and understands the dangers within the public schools, but is unable to homeschool because of the shameful tax rates with which the State has burdened its people. Too many mothers cannot afford to be home with their children for they must work to support the government mission to steal from them. The children go to babysitters, daycare centers, and eventually into huge groups of children at public school facilities. None of these outcomes, brought about by excessive, unconstitutional government, is in the best interests of any child. The children end up in such placements either by financial default, or because the State was successful in brainwashing their parents.

Consider an extended family that readjusts its value system so that every effort is made to keep the children within the safety of family dwellings. If grandparents are near, they can assist with the homeschooling, allowing the mother to work part time should the family need that extra income. If the mother does not need to work, the grandparents can still assist by taking children to music lessons, dance classes, museum trips, even a walk through an antique store to show the children the types of items that were once used in homes and in farming. The homeschooling parent can then work with the younger, or the older, children, giving them more direct attention.

Grandparents can certainly teach classes, especially in reading, spelling and history. Grandfathers can teach skills such as woodworking, vehicle repair, hunting. Grandmothers can teach homesteading skills like crocheting, gardening, canning, and knitting. Such homeschools, organized to tap into all talents in the family, would be unsurpassed in their ability to wisely parent and broadly educate the next generation.

Should grandparents be absolutely unable to move near the grandchildren, then parents should seriously consider the drawbacks of this mobile society we have created, and make the decision to move back home near the grandparents.

We did, and we have never regretted it. We love Colorado Springs; our son was born there; our jobs were interesting. However, by the time that David was one year old, we had come to the conclusion that not only did he need his grandparents; they needed him, as well. We sold out, packed up, and headed home to Michigan. We bought 22 acres with a 140-year-old farm cottage in need of repair, and together we turned it into a home that we dearly love.

My father invested time, teaching, and love in David. Dad is gone now, but his commitment continues to pay dividends, and he passed his torch to the next generation. David is an expert mechanic, on engines small and large, and he learned those skills from his grandfather. My mother taught school into her seventies, and so was able to provide extras that often we could not afford since we tried to always have one parent home with David. Thus, David had piano lessons, vacations to interesting places, hundreds of books to provide him with ever-wider experiences. David also, from all of us, developed one of the strongest work ethics that I have ever seen. Along with his homeschooling, he works for businesses, individuals, and serves his own small engine-repair customers. He began working at age 8, and has not slowed down since.

Absentee grandparents can still play an integral role in a homeschooling family. They can help to finance the educations that the children are receiving at home. They can write long newsy letters each week, and request that the grandchildren write lengthy letters back, thereby giving the children purposeful reading and writing practice so that the children develop better language skills. Grandparents can invite the children to visit them for long weeks in the summer and plan a multitude of educational experiences — trips, books read aloud in the evenings (instead of TV), oral stories of the grandparents’ own childhoods and youth, helping to anchor the younger generations to their ancestors and past. Grandparents can coordinate vacations with their children and grandchildren so that all share experiences about which they can write and talk for months, even years, to come.

We did just that in my family, and I will never forget the trips with the grandparents. No seatbelt laws then, so Dad, Grandma and my deaf brother, Reed, would sit up front. Grandpa, Mom, Scott and myself would sit in the back. Our trip to Washington DC was the most memorable, for my grandparents had always longed to see the capital of the nation, but had never expected that they would get there. Their enthusiasm heightened our own perceptions of each monument, of each experience, of the trip as a whole. When I recently flew to DC, and the plane came in over the monuments, my thoughts were back with Grandma and Grandpa and the delight they found in having their dream come true.

That was also the trip during which we all learned to sing in harmony — except Reed, unfortunately. We sang our way through Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. Grandpa sang tenor, Grandma sang contralto, and the rest of us did the best that we could, with Grandpa coaching us on pitch and harmony; having us plug our ears so we could better sing our own part without being drawn to join a stronger voice. We had more fun than most kids could ever imagine and the hills rang with old hymns, with old popular music. It is no wonder that my favorite pub is The Golden Bee in Colorado Springs where everyone sings those old songs as the piano player plays.

All children need grandparents who are involved in their lives. All children would do better in school and in life if they were homeschooled well by committed family groupings — groups that would also serve to reduce stress. (Yes, it is easy to become stressed by the awesome responsibility of homeschooling.)

What makes more sense than to encourage all three generations to participate in the raising up and educating of our nations’ children who need, so badly, to be removed from ineffective, counter-productive, even dangerous State schools? I cannot think of anything more important.

Parents! Call your parents and invite them to share in the homeschooling of their grandchildren. You will probably be surprised at the eagerness with which your invitation is accepted.

Linda Schrock Taylor [send her mail] is a free-lance writer and the owner of “The Learning Clinic,” where real reading, and real math, are taught effectively and efficiently.

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