Article by Naomi Webb
All good grandparents want the best for their grandchildren. Of course, this extends to supporting their learning and development too, but not all of us know how to go about doing this. For instance, what’s the appropriate way to get involved? What role should we play? How can we take on responsibility without treading on parents’ and teachers’ toes? Well, here’s a few suggestions.
First, recognise that quality time is one of the best educational gifts you can give your grandchildren. When you manage to get some one to one time with your them, do what you did with your own children: show them interesting things, introduce them to a range of flavours and textures, play imaginative games with them and encourage them to investigate the world around them. Lots of important life lessons are taught through sensory play, messy play and role play, so get baking in the kitchen, roll around the garden and take your grandchildren for a splash at the local pool! Ultimately, if you’re spending time together, you’re already getting involved in one crucial facet of their education.
Secondly, you can get involved in their education by reading to them. No matter how young they are, it’s never too early to start reading books together, and it’s actually a critical part of their learning and development. Babies benefit from the sound and rhythm of speech, and many toddlers find the routine of reading soothing – especially when they’re familiar with your tone of voice. In fact, there are helpful nursery resources available online if you want to get started! Older children will also develop a broader vocabulary by reading with you, flex their imaginations and learn about the world around them. When your grandchildren are in school, ask their parents if you can take on some of the responsibility for doing their reading and literacy homework.
Another way to be involved is to see if you can work closely with the school. Of course, this means having a chat with the child’s parents first to confirm they’re comfortable with the role you want to play. If everyone’s on board, attending school trips and volunteering as a classroom reader will help you stay in the loop.
You could also drop off or collect your grandchildren from school, and while you’re there, why not ask the teachers if you can have a look around? Your grandchildren will love the chance to show you their classroom and their desk, and will relish the opportunity to introduce you to their teacher! You could also encourage children to discuss their friends, projects and subjects with you so that you know what a typical school day looks like for them.
Finally, it can be as simple as attending assemblies, school plays and award ceremonies. Cheer them on from the sidelines on sports day and pitch in to create their costume for dressing up events. Above all, get involved by having fun together and making memories!