Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ways to Include Extended Family

It happens every September: Grandparent's Day.  At many schools, private and public, grandparents will be asked to visit or notes of appreciation will be written.  Family bonds will be strengthened, and grandparents will feel a part of their grandchildren's school experiences.  For homeschoolers, we aren't limited to a specific day, celebration, or occasion to include grandparents.  In many ways, as often as possible, grandparents and extended family members can be involved in our homeschooling journeys.

Of all the benefits to homeschooling, regular multi-generational interactions must rank fairly high.  It is one benefit that we seek to draw upon as often as possible.  Over the years, our family has tried to include grandparents and other family members in our homeschooling days.  Of course, not everyone agrees with our decision to homeschool, and some aren't able to participate regularly due to schedules or living far away.  However, for those family members who are willing and able, it is a tremendous blessing and source of encouragement.

Some of the ways we, and other homeschooling families we know, include extended family are:
  1. Sharing Special Skills and Hobbies - Making jelly or applesauce, creating model railroad scenes, and shooting bow and arrows or BB guns have been some of the skills my parents have taught our children. 
  2. Field Trips - We've shared trips to heritage museums, orchards, railroad museums, public gardens and zoos.
  3. Scholastic Fairs and Co-op Presentations - When the children participated in a geography fair, extended family attended the presentation.  Similarly, hand bell performances and science demonstrations have been ideal places for ideal family to observe home education in action.
  4. Volunteer Opportunities at Co-op or Teach a Subject at Home - Extended family is always welcome to help teach/assist or share an experience as a guest speaker in our co-op classes.  Also, we know a few retired teachers who teach their homeschooled grandchildren one or two specific classes a week.
  5. Musical Presentations and Sporting Events - For this year, whether our daughter's first upcoming piano recital, the choir concert, or flag football game, we'll be inviting extended family.  During concerts or game time, sitting in the audience or on the sidelines cheering on a participant make for special memories for both the child and grandparent.
  6. Special Projects - We have had extended family share in the making or presenting of special projects throughout the years.  Other times, extended family has served as an audience for our budding presenters.
  7. Pen Pals - For extended family who live far away, correspondence in letters and cards help include them in our everyday lives and improve our children's writing skills.
  8. History Information - Oral histories, personal experiences, and one on one interviews with family members who have lived through the times we are studying have been invaluable. 
What are some more ways to include grandparents or extended family in your homeschool?  I look forward to reading your ideas and hopefully including them into our days as well.

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