Whether they're not yet in school, or approaching graduation, children of every age are always learning something. Grandparents are uniquely equipped to help. Our life experience and education enable us to enlarge our grandchild's perspective and help them understand that learning is fun.
Pre-school children are naturally curious about the world around them. Stimulate that curiosity and help them love to learn:
- Encourage pre-reading skills. Give books as birthday or Christmas gifts. Inscribe them with a personal message. If you live too far away to read to your grandchild regularly, record yourself reading a book, then send the book with the recording to your grandchild.
- Give a magazine subscription as a gift. Carus Publishing offers magazines like BabyBug, Ladybug and Spider; or consider Highlights magazines, Ranger Rick or one of the National Geographic magazines for kids.
- Help him learn to be observant. Go on a treasure hunt around the neighborhood with a list of specific things to find, or play I Spy together. Encourage him to use all his senses to explore: how does this smell? What does it feel like? How many sounds do you hear?
Elementary school age kids who are just learning to read and write are usually enthused about pen-and-paper learning. Take advantage of that:
- Write to them, even if you live nearby. Look for postcards illustrating local historical sites or natural wonders, or postcards that are just fun, with riddles and jokes. Your note on the back reminds your grandchild that you love him. A good place to find postcards is your local airport gift shop, or go online; websites like The Marianne Richmond Studio offer postcards and other resources for grandparents.
- Help them start a collection. What are they interested in? How can you answer their curiosity? If they are fascinated by shells, help them find an age-appropriate book about shells, take them to the beach to look for shells or find a local museum with a shell collection and visit.
- Ask about school. Look at their school papers enthusiastically, affirming their effort and accomplishment. Visit their school if possible, or ask for a photograph of their classroom or of your grandchild with her teacher. Post the photograph where she will see it when she comes to visit.
Junior high, high school and college students are techno-savvy, and you can use this to your advantage:
- Set up a blog to tell the story of your learning adventures - check out www.blogger.com and invite your grandchild to read it. Add links, photographs and your observations; he can respond with his own comments. You can even invite him to contribute what he's learning to your blog by making him a contributor.
- Describe what you are learning in a letter or an e-mail. Include photographs or sketches of what you are doing. If it's a project of some sort – a recipe you're making or a project you're building – send the recipe or a copy of the plans or blueprints. If you go to a program, a concert or an exhibition, share the programs, brochures and pamphlets you pick up with your grandchild. Include a note that tells what you saw, heard and felt while you were there.
- Visit museums, go to concerts or sporting events and otherwise share in the things he is interested in. Listen to his comments and questions. Ask him questions to demonstrate your interest and affirmation.
As a grandparent, our enthusiasm, interest and involvement can encourage any child to become a lifelong learner. Enjoy participating as your grandkids catch on to the joys of learning! Online Resources to Check Out:
Submitted by Springfield Moms writer Holly Schurter. Holly is married to John; they are parents of eight children and grandparents to eleven, including three who live in the Springfield area. Holly is also a freelance writer.