Learn how grandparents can support homeschooling their grandchildren, the challenges, benefits, and more practical tips. Read this ultimate guide.
Today, education can look different for each and every family. Some kids are in public school, others private, and then, of course, there’s homeschooling. Even in homeschooling, though, it’s not the same across the board. While for a long time, it has been primarily mothers who were homeschooling their children, these days, dads often jump in too. Since the pandemic, we’re also seeing a rise in grandparents who are involved in their grandkids’ homeschool journey!
There are many different reasons a grandparent may have regular or complete involvement in a grandchild’s home education. Having flexibility when it comes to a child’s education is such a gift. It can be a huge blessing when grandparents are willing and able to come alongside and assist. They don’t have to make it a formal classroom experience—one of the many benefits of homeschooling—but there still are so many opportunities to teach grandchildren even outside regular school hours.
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Grandparents Can Support Homeschooling Parents
Even if they are not full-time educators of their grandchildren, grandparents can support homeschooling their grandchildren by supporting the parents. Here are some great ways to be involved:
- Reading to the grandchildren: There have been countless studies proving how important reading aloud to children is for their literary, social, emotional, and overall mental development. Children who have been read to tend to be better readers, have a larger vocabulary, and have improved reading comprehension skills.
- Storytelling: Grandparents have unique experiences and perspectives. Every memory and story has the opportunity to be a history lesson. Whether recounting historic events they witnessed or sharing ancestral history and traditions, simply sharing their past is a teaching moment for grandparents.
- Extracurricular activities: Taking grandchildren to extracurricular activities—such as co-op classes, sports practices, dance, music, or art lessons—is a simple yet important way grandparents can impact their grandchildren’s education.
- Life skill training: From woodworking to baking to mechanics, grandparents came from a generation that fixed something when it was broken and made do with what they had. These valuable life skills are often left unshared by younger generations, leaving them ill-prepared to start their lives as adults. What may seem like a simple chore to a grandparent can be a life-equipping lesson for their grandchild!
- Taking them on field trips: Parents often wish their children could attend more field trips but cannot make it happen due to work and time constraints. This is a space where grandparents can step in and help give grandchildren a chance to see and experience learning things they otherwise wouldn’t have.
Grandparents Can Support Homeschooling From a Distance
When a grandparent doesn’t live close to their grandchildren, there are still plenty of ways to engage in homeschooling their grandchildren, such as:
- Teaching virtually: Using technology like FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom calls, grandparents can teach their grandchildren skills and knowledge such as home economics, shopping, or family history.
- Financial support: Contribute to extracurricular activities and clubs, such as a sport, dance, music, or art lessons. A little bit can go a long way!
- Taking trips with the grandchildren. Take them on educational “vacations” to historic sites, zoos or aquariums, or museums. Church mission trips are other great trips that are both educational and faith-building.
- Researching college scholarship programs. Junior and senior years can be hectic for a high schooler, and searching for scholarships is another burden on an already busy brain. Grandparents can scout for scholarships and mentorship programs for their grandchildren, even from miles away, and help alleviate that pressure. This is also a great help for busy parents who may not have time to do so.
- Attending homeschool conferences. Go with the whole family! It always helps to expand one’s knowledge about homeschooling and attending conferences with homeschooling parents can help grandparents understand more about the process. It also creates space for grandparents to spend time with their grandchildren while Mom and Dad are in sessions.
Grandparents Can Homeschool Their Grandchildren Full-Time
What if a grandparent wants to fully take on the burden of homeschooling their grandchild?
The laws around grandparents homeschooling their grandchildren may vary from state to state. If a grandparent is in a situation with custodial rights and is raising their grandchild, most state laws allow it. In some states, parents are permitted to delegate teaching to other people, including grandparents, as long as they comply with the homeschool statutes. Read about your state’s homeschool laws at HSLDA.
Reasons a grandparent would be homeschooling their grandchildren:
Both parents work but want the child to be homeschooled
- Child: Children all have different educational needs, and many benefit from homeschooling’s flexible nature and one-on-one teaching opportunities.
- Economy: Families may have been homeschooling for some time, but both parents now need to work.
Single parent situations
In another situation, a single parent would love to homeschool their child, but work and the burden of running a household alone are too much to also include educating their child.
No matter what the reason, if a grandparent has the ability, availability, and desire to homeschool their grandchild full-time, homeschooling can have many benefits for both the grandparent and grandchild. However, it isn’t without its challenges as well.
Benefits and Challenges of Homeschooling a Grandchild
Challenges of Homeschooling as a Grandparent
- Setting up boundaries: Grandparents often have a reputation for being fun and more lenient than parents. “At Grandma’s house, you can have ice cream before dinner!” This dynamic will change once a grandparent is in charge of staying on top of schoolwork, enforcing deadlines, and occasionally dealing with discipline and conflict.
- Less energy: Teaching is tiring! Grandparents may feel the added strain of being their grandchild’s primary educator and be less energetic because of it.
- Strain on parental relationship: This applies if the teaching grandparent is not the child’s guardian. There could be potential friction between grandparents and parents with differing opinions on how the child should be taught.
- Change in personal activities/Schedule flexibility: Homeschooling takes time, and a grandparent enjoying the retired life will find that their once ample free time has now been gobbled up by homeschooling. Activities they previously had time for will take a backseat to the priority of homeschooling.
- Negative reactions from friends: Because grandparents homeschooling their grandchildren is not a mainstream concept, there will be unsolicited feedback from peers, often negative. Grandparents will need to prepare themselves for how they will respond to these questions and comments.
Benefits of Homeschooling
- More time with grandchildren: In today’s culture, grandparents are spending less and less time with their grandchildren. Homeschooling is a great opportunity for grandparents to remain heavily involved in their grandchildren’s lives.
- Sharing the work of raising grandchildren: They weren’t kidding when they said it takes a village to raise a child! With grandparents homeschooling, the burden of caring for and raising children is spread out. This frees up time, patience, and even money for the parents and the grandparents, while the children receive a more rounded education. This leads to the next point.
- Diverse opportunities both for grandchild and grandparent: Each teacher, whether in a public school classroom or as a homeschooler, has unique experiences and perspectives to share. Children who have been taught by their grandparents will receive a rich education tailored to them.
- Godly blessings: Titus 2 instructs older men and women to educate the younger men and women. While homeschooling certainly isn’t the one and only way to do that, it’s an excellent opportunity to live those verses out. Grandparents can share their faith, talk about all the things God has done for them, and explain the Bible to their grandkids!
Find Homeschooling Support
Even with grandparents involved in the homeschooling journey, it is nearly impossible to walk through it alone. Finding support emotionally and academically makes a huge difference for anyone when it comes to homeschooling, but especially for grandparents!
- Extended family: If others in a family are homeschooling, grandparents can reach out to discuss lesson plans, trade teaching days, plan field trips together, or simply talk through challenges they are facing.
- Church: Community is first found in the church, and homeschooling is no exception. A local church often has resources for homeschoolers, and a strong church community is excellent for offering spiritual and emotional support.
- Homeschool community: Co-ops and other homeschool groups make a huge difference in any home educator’s life. Some offer classes to supplement or support a child’s education, while others provide field trips, sports, and social activities to keep children social and active. Home educators are able to gather together to support and encourage each other, sharing resources and knowledge so that everyone can succeed.
- Homeschool associations and conventions: Conventions like Teach Them Diligently or state-associated ones like the Home Educators Association of Virginia, Florida Parent Educators Association, or INCH in Michigan. These are full of resources designed to help any home educator—parent or grandparent—succeed in homeschooling.
- Legal advocacy associations: It’s important when homeschooling to make sure that all state laws regarding education are being followed. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association, or HSLDA, is the best place to start to find all the requirements needed for homeschooling.
There are so many different ways homeschooling can function successfully. If you’re a grandparent looking to jump into the crazy, exciting mess, don’t worry! No home education looks the same, so find what works best for your family. It’s a learning process and takes lots of trial and error to learn what works for you and your student. Our hope is that this article has helped take some of the mystery out of how grandparents can support homeschooling and made it feel a little more doable for you!
An avid reader of literature, Arden loves using words and stories to communicate the truth, beauty, and goodness of God. She has been writing for fun since she could reach a keyboard but has over a decade of writing experience in the professional sphere. With eight years of children’s ministry, three in youth ministry, and five years in young adult ministry, Arden also values making God’s word understandable and accessible to the entire family, no matter what season of life.