Grandma, Will You Read to Me: Learning with Extended Family

One of the most exciting parts of the homeschooling lifestyle is inviting those in our families on the journey with us.

Looking back on my childhood I wish I had learned more practical life skills, like cooking and sewing, from those in my family. But I spent most of my days in a school building, and the desire to learn anything else after those long hours just wasn’t my idea of fun.

Thankfully homeschooling offers us the precious gift of time. If we’re blessed to have extended family living nearby, we can incorporate their skills and talents into our curriculum. Even if family lives elsewhere we can invite them into our learning adventure when they visit or from afar.

Check out these practical ideas to hear how others make learning a true family affair.

Read-alouds

If your family lives close by, or when they visit, allowing them to be part of family read-alouds is an obvious way to bond and learn with your children. If your kids are like mine, no visitor can pass through the door without soon being asked, “Will you read to me?”

One time my mother, who does not live nearby, sent my kids a book and DVD–the DVD showed her reading the book and discussing it with them. They watched it and loved having Meme “read to them” on the screen.

Handwriting/Composition

Renee of FIMBY writes that her children regularly send letters and emails to their grandparents–creating a real life opportunity to practice handwriting and composition as well as building relationships.

And when the grandparents write back, that is of course excellent reading practice.

Geography

Geography comes up naturally if you have family living elsewhere. Mark where your relatives live on a map and research those locations.

Misha of Beauty and Joy finds that because her parents and in-laws live overseas it opens up a myriad of learning opportunities in their homeschool.

History

It only takes a simple request, like “Papa, tell me a story about when you were a little boy,” to make history come alive for young ears.

Although I wasn’t homeschooled, I’ll never forget listening to my grandfather recounting his experiences during World War II.

Field Trips

It’s easy to include visiting family members when you head out to a museum, farm, or any new destination. Jessica of Life as Mom writes about the fun her children have exploring museums with her mother, who is a museum curator and has a wealth of historical knowledge.

Even a trip to the grocery store with Grandma can be an educational affair.

Calligraphy, Cooking, Construction, Sewing, Music

This is where it gets really good. Because what our extended family members should teach our children is…their passion, whatever that might be.

In generations past, new skills were naturally passed down this way.

But in the rush of our busy lives, as we hurry to get those curriculum boxes checked off, we may miss the treasure that is right in front of us.

Don’t overlook the educational heritage that lives within the branches of your family tree. Take the time to cultivate it–and invite your family to be involved.

How do you include extended family in your homeschool?

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.

Comments

  1. Kami says:

    I so wish that we had extended family living near to us! There are so many ways I would love to involve them in my boy’s learning, and my boys miss family so much too…it is hard living far away and moving a lot. But for now, we definitely do the letter writing. We use video skype with grandparents a lot too, which is nice, but not as good as a lap to sit on!
    .-= Kami’s last blog: North, South, East, West printable =-.

  2. Laura says:

    I love this! My mother is an amateur artist, and I can’t wait for her to teach art classes to my little ones. :) And just last night, I sat down with the five-year-old and she dictated a letter to her great-grandma for me. Such a wonderful way to practice our language arts! :)
    .-= Laura’s last blog: Letter Writing Week: May 16-22 =-.

  3. Sherri says:

    Unfortunately our considering homeschooling is doing nothing but generating disapproval and constant questioning from my in-laws about our (potential) choice. But, they’ve shown themselves to not be very approving of many of our choices (extended bfing, co-sleeping, gentle parenting (we’re apparently not “harsh” enough)….sigh.

  4. sarah says:

    My mil lives with us. She is teaching them piano. She also shows them a gentle, God – loving spirit. She’s a great listener and encourager. My youngest reads to her everyday as part of her schooling. And the past few weeks, my daughter has been playing school with her. My daughter takes the role of teacher and teaches all her new skills to my mil. Very sweet.

  5. Izzy says:

    We are blessed to have supportive extended family regarding our homeschool, as I’m reading here, there are a lot of you out there who do not. That is a sad fact. I agree with Jaime, in the past knowledge was passed down through the family based on each members talents and interests, which feels so much more “real” to the learner! We try to include family as much as we can. “Nana” who lives close comes on some weekend field trips when possible and sending notes to other family is a fun and meaningful thing for our daughter. An Auntie sends storybooks relating to our current interests etc…It still should “take a village”……..

  6. hillary says:

    I love this post!

    This is a topic that makes me really excited about homeschooling. My mom is an amazing educator and I’m always glad to have her input on child development and how children learn. She’s also really good with the 5-12 set; encouraging questions and being enthusiastic about weather and bugs and using math when cooking. My brother just graduated with his masters in math and he tutors high school students. I’m very happy to have him as a resource as the kids get older and if they are interested in understanding math on deeper levels.

    My father-in-law is really great at identifying trees and loves taking walks and reading with the kids. He has this ability to just move at their pace and not rush them through anything. My other brother is an arborist and horticulturist. I love having people who know how to identify trees and plants and it’s something I want to learn about more too! He’s in the Peace Corps in Panama right now so I’m sure he’s going to bring back some amazing cultural stories and experiences. He’s also fluent in Spanish.

    My mother in law is an artist and has an amazing knowledge of color wheels and is a skilled at drawing and painting. She is also a really great cook and enjoys cooking with the kids.

    I could go on–lol! It’s fun to look at the people you know and celebrate their skills and talents.
    .-= hillary’s last blog: flowers13: Bed. Now. =-.

  7. Kara Fleck says:

    Letter writing is one of my daughter’s favorite things to do with family, too :-) She has some cousins she writes letters to as well as her grandparents. (My mom saves the comics from the Sunday paper for her and mails them)

    We’re also in the very cool, if I do say so myself, position of having family members who are in the natural sciences: my dad is a wildlife biologist and my brother is an entomologist. We have our own personal nature study experts ;-)

    My kids Great-Aunt Didi is an avid reader and something she and my 8 year have been bonding over is discussing books. DiDi has read *everything* it seems and always has a good suggestion to add to our library list.

    Love this post and all the comments – SH readers have some really cool families! :-)
    .-= Kara Fleck’s last blog: Homemade Baby Food 101 For the Modern Mom – Part I =-.

  8. My FIL lives in the same town, and is instrumental in my girls’ lives. He was a mechanic in the Navy, and has a natural appitude to “fix” things. I hope he will be able to show my children some of these problem solving skills as they grow.

    I also like the idea to incorporate the out of town relatives with lessons in reading, writing and geography. My oldest daughter is adopted from China, so we already have a world map in the childrens’ room with stickers indicating all of our birthplaces, this will just be the next step!

  9. Kerry says:

    Love this! I was just telling a friend last week that I hope to include as many friends and family as possible in my kid’s homeschooling because there is no one better to learn with or from than someone with a passion.

  10. Hannah says:

    One year, for my daughter’s birthday, I asked my parents and siblings that if they wanted to get her a gift, to please give her a picture book with a CD of them reading it to her! They used GarageBand and all recorded their voices reading; we ended up with four different stories that get listened to over and over.

    After reading something from the Leadership Education website, I’m inspired to encourage my father-in-law to do more woodworking projects with my son (our oldest). These opportunities are so fleeting!
    .-= Hannah’s last blog: Strawberry Delight =-.

  11. Kika says:

    I too wish we had family living closer. My husband’s family is in Africa and letters go missing when we send them; they have very little access to internet and the phone lines are sketchy and expensive. My family is closer than that (but still 5 hs + away) and as my younger siblings start to marry and build families there is more opportunity for my kids to write letters/send artwork. My brothers and Dad teach more guitar to my son whenever they come to see us. My mom used to buy and send my kids beautiful books (usually of black families b/c my children are African-Canadian) and shared her love of literature with them but she moved on to heaven about 7 years ago. Most of my grandparents are gone now too but we do travel 1-2x/year to see those remaining and I’d hoped that this next visit, my kids could spend time asking them more questions about their great-grandparent’s childhood & younger years.

  12. Nola says:

    These ideas are great!

    My mom reads to my oldest on the phone. She started this when she was 2.5 years old. Now they do it almost weekly, and now my daughter also reads out loud to my Mom too. At first we started with the speaker phone feature. Now we just use the phone normally. We found it worked best if my mom has a copy of whatever book my daughter is reading out loud (for her own enjoyment, since sometimes its hard to figure out little voices on the phone, even though she can read well) but it didn’t work well for my daughter to have the same book as my mom was reading following along until more recently. Anyways…works great for us! My mom also sometimes sends small items in the mail she finds like special leaves or feathers for our “nature bowl”

Share Your Thoughts

*

CommentLuv badge