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Raising Grandchildren to Dream and Learn

Are you one of the 2.7 million Americans raising your grandkids? Or do you just want to inspire your grandkids to learn and dream?

Follow these tested tips, research and real-life stories to make your life easier and joyful.

Be a Good Role Model

John and I hope our family history, and the life skills we taught the twins, will help them in later years. We also hope the twins see us as role models. Susan Adcox writes about being a role model in her article, “10 Ways to be a Good Role Model for Grandkids,” posted on The Spruce website. Below are her tips and comments from my experience.

10 Tips to Be a Good Role Model for Your Grandchildren

  1. Keep moving. Don’t become a couch potato. If you’re already a couch potato, get up and get moving.
  2. Develop a healthy relationship with food. Eat moderately, not too little, and not too much. Overeating can be a sign of stress.
  3. Accept your appearance. You’re one of a kind. Don’t let TV and print ads determine your appearance.
  4. Give to others. Even if you have little to give, surely there is something to give, such as the gift of listening.
  5. Put people above possessions. You have obviously put a precious grandchild above yourself.
  6. Be aware of the beauty that surrounds you. Each day, stop for a minute and observe this beauty.
  7. Have an optimistic attitude, even in tough times. This may be a good time to read the notes in your Happiness Jar.
  8. Monitor the tone of your voice. Children, like puppies, pick up on the tone of voice to determine intent.
  9. Get interested in politics. You can be informed and up-to-date without getting involved or strident.
  10. “Forgive and forgive again.”

Encourage Learning in Your Grandchildren

You don’t need a teaching degree to be a life teacher; you already have many things to share. The best thing you can do for your grandkids is to encourage them to learn.

  • Put parent conferences on the calendar and plan to attend them.
  • Help with homework as best you can.
  • Learn about child development and how kids of different ages approach things.
  • Connect with your grandchild’s school and attend school functions.
  • Keep learning yourself. Some of my friends do crossword puzzles to keep their minds active. I write articles and books.

These tips will help you stay active mentally, physically, and emotionally. Stand back, world. A dedicated, determined, and loving grandparent is on the job!

Create Play Time for Your Grandchildren

Today, many children and grandchildren aren’t getting the physical activity they need. Worse, original play is under attack, according to the article “Child’s Play: Importance of Play Time for Children Neglected, Advocates Say” on the Town Talk website. Since the 1970s children have lost an average of nine hours of free play per week. Do the math. Nine hours a week, multiplied by 52 weeks in a year, adds up to 468 hours a year. These hours of joyful learning are lost forever. Take back playtime!

Young children learn by playing. If your grandkids are now living with you, their play time may have been limited. Put original play—unstructured play created by her or him—on the daily schedule.

You may join your grandchild’s play but do it at their level. Our backyard was fairly steep. One fall, when the twins were in kindergarten or first grade, I showed them how to roll down the grassy bank. I rolled down first, and the twins followed me. Our house was at the bottom of a hill and if neighbors looked out their windows, they would see me rolling. I pictured them watching me, shaking their heads, and saying, “The poor dear. Harriet has finally lost it.”

I hadn’t lost it and loved rolling down the hillside with the twins. Fall had come. We smelled it in the air and heard it in the papery leaves as we rolled over them. While we rolled, more leaves fell from the two-hundred-year-old oak trees in our yard. When we finished rolling, I gave the twins rakes, and they raked leaves into piles. This memory, an example of original play with adult participation, is still clear in my mind. All these years later, I still feel the joy of that day.

This blog post is excerpted from the book, So, You’re Raising Your Grandkids! Tested Tips, Research & Real-Life Stories to Make Your LIfe Easier, and contributed courtesy of the author, Harriet Hodgson.