Thursday, September 22, 2016

Grandparents as Mentors - Part 2

Grandparents have a wealth of wisdom that can positively impact their families and others in their communities. My last blog post covered how grandparents can work with their home
schooled grandchildren. This week’s focus is on grandparents and other seniors who want to make a difference in their communities.

For several years our church has provided a ministry to our local elementary school to help provide school supplies for needy students and teacher breakfasts on the first day back at school. This long-standing relationship opened the door for church members to participate in a new mentoring program for at risk students. The school selects the students they feel would benefit, parents give their permission, and the school matches a volunteer to work with a child on a weekly basis. The child leaves the classroom and interacts with the mentor in the media library for 30 minutes at least once a week. (In the stories below, the names of the two grandparent mentors have been changed to protect the privacy of all the parties.)
I asked John to tell me about his experience as a mentor to a 5th grade boy. He expected to help him with math or English, but the counselor explained that this boy just needed a friend. As they met together, John worked to break down the age barrier so they could become friends.  He thought for sure that an eleven year old boy would be interested in sports.  He was surprised to discover than his mentee wanted to talk about politics. John was a history and political junkie, so the two clicked right away. At the end of the school year luncheon for the mentors, John’s assigned student gave him a big bear hug and said he hoped he could come to his new school and continue to be his friend.

Mary’s experience as a mentor was with two 5th grade girls at first, but one dropped out of the program. Mary and her remaining student spent time talking about her experiences at school.  She learned her student was an artist, so Mary brought her a paper tablet for drawing. During other sessions they played UNO or worked on Mary’s electronic tablet playing puzzles and games.  As they met and talked, they bonded making a memorable experience for both parties in spite of the wide age difference.

Seeds planted tend to bear fruit in due time, and the contribution of these grandparents is yet to be fully realized.  No matter how old we are there are ways for our older generation to make a difference in our communities. 

I would love to hear from you if you know of other ways seniors can positively influence the younger generation. Enter your comment below and please add your name at the end of your comments. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Grandparents as Mentors - Part 1

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter officially designated the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents’ Day. This year’s celebration will be held on September 11, 2016—also the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. National Grandparents’ Day is a secular holiday celebrated to honor grandparents for their contribution to our lives, and to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children.

Because of instant communication and easier travel, today’s Grandparents have many opportunities to influence the lives of their grandchildren. One of the most beneficial is to encourage their education. Those with financial means might choose to contribute to a 529 Savings Plan that will provide funds when college time rolls around. Another worthwhile way to support their education efforts is to encourage and support those grandchildren who are home schooled.

My guest blogger this week is Jennifer Henn. She desires to see home school mothers flourish. Sharing from fifteen years of experience, she seeks to support others through the challenges of schooling at home. Jennifer speaks to home school groups large and small. Her true passion is fulfilled when the mom who feels alone or defeated is encouraged.
Even though her life is full being a wife and mother of teens, she makes time to escape with a book, coffee, and chocolate.  Welcome, Jennifer. 

5 Ways Grandparents Can Help to Home School
The concept of homeschooling can be hard for grandparents to understand since it isn’t something they grew up with. Even if they can’t understand why their adult child decided to homeschool, they have an abundance of patience and experience to share with the next generation. Homeschooling is rewarding, but at times, a daunting task. These are some ways you can help.

Be a Positive EncouragerYour children could be struggling with the decision themselves, but need to homeschool because of a bullying or learning problem. Let them know you support their decision to homeschool. Encouraging words will go a long way to strengthen their confidence.

Financial Help:  Homeschool is less expensive than private school, but still isn’t cheap.  Consider buying a year’s pass to the zoo, an amusement park or museum. Some grandparents help by paying for music lessons or sporting activities. If that’s too much, consider purchasing school supplies or fast food gift cards for a treat when the kids are on an outing.

Tutoring:   Brush up on your skills and teach a new math concept, conduct a science experiment, or complete a building project together. Read aloud a favorite book from your childhood or one of their favorites.  Out of town grandparents can Skype, use Face Time, or text to be part of the learning environment.

Field Trip:   Here’s the chance to share your passion like your favorite museum or hiking trail. Taking the kids on a factory tour while mom stays home would be a nice break for her. Need an idea? Start your search for field trip ideas on the internet.

Baby Sit:   If you live nearby, offer to take your preschool grandchild for a morning or two. Preschoolers are full of love and life, but pose a challenge when older kids need a one-on-one lesson.

Grandparents enjoy time with their grand kids and have a role in the family’s activities. More than just spending time and helping out, they’re building a memory, and everyone is blessed.
Psalm 127:3 Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. (NIV)

Grandparents as Mentors – Part 2 will focus on how seniors can work as mentors within the public school system.