We sit side by side, propped up on pillows on my bed. It’s midday and neither of us is sick. We just like to do it this way. One by one each grandchild comes by “Grammy’s room” to do their math with me in turn (they fight about who has to go first—they are, after all, normal kids). We go through our lessons in each child’s Life of Fred math book and laugh at Fred’s ridiculously unbelievable life and adventures as they learn math and several other lessons thrown in for good measure. We may discuss anything that pops into our minds.
The math venue of my bed is the grandchildren’s choice. I am past seventy, widowed, and now live with my daughter’s family, hence the presence of the three grandchildren, ages twelve, twelve, and ten. Yes, twins—a brother and sister—and the youngest, their ten-year-old brother. My daughter and son-in-law homeschool these three in Classical Conversations. Since I now live with them, it is convenient, helpful, and enjoyable for me to take part in this venture. I think the children chose my big bed because when we began, it was winter and being hunkered down on pillows with their favorite blanket pulled around us gave them the warm fuzzy feelings we adults might get entering a Starbucks on a chilly day. It was special and comforting.
Homeschooling is nostalgic to me. I homeschooled my daughter and this is my chance to continue what I loved doing the first time around those many years ago. Seeing my own grandchildren light up with knowledge they’ve just gained with me is “priceless,” as the credit card commercial puts it. As my daughter will attest, Classical Conversations makes homeschooling so much better this second time around, and the small part I play helps lighten her load. Because I made her go through second year calculus in high school even though she did not like math, she says I can do the math with her kids as retribution! Of course, she knows I love math!
Now it is my granddaughter who, at this time in her life, can see no possible use for math in her future. Consequently, we are often in an adversarial position despite being cuddled next to each other on my big bed, but even this gives me opportunities to explain some Biblical truths that apply to her situation.
With the youngest still in Foundations and Essentials and the twins entering Challenge A next year, there will be even more opportunity to help with their schooling and I’m really looking forward to it, having directed Challenge A, B, and I in the past. Map drawing practice, drilling countries, capitals, features, Latin drills, and translating. Yum! I can hardly wait for the upper Challenge levels. Of course, the bulk of the guidance will be done by my daughter, who wouldn’t want to miss out on the joys or even the struggles, but I am excited to support her efforts.
Classical Conversations is seeing second generations in the programs and in leadership roles, and as our family demonstrates, the grandparents can also get involved. Why not have three generations taking part in nurturing the young ones, and helping to redeem their adult children’s education and even their own at the same time?
We oldies have had a lot of life experiences that we can relate to children when discussing, for example, a Challenge novel using the five common topics. My Challenge students were fascinated to hear that I had seen and heard Corrie ten Boom speak, when we discussed The Hiding Place. It made her and her story a bit more real. They were amazed in a discussion of Elisabeth Elliot when I told them I had met a relative of one of the Aucas (Huaorani) who attacked the five missionaries to Ecuador. She, like so many of her people, had become a believer and was then a student at Bryan College. On the other hand, they were quite disappointed to discover I did not know Chuck Colson. They said they thought I would know most of the people they would read about since I had heard Elizabeth Elliot and Francis Schaffer and several other well-known Christian speakers. And no, I did not know C. S. Lewis, either! (How old did they think I am?) Even my grandchildren informed me that I, having lived through at least half as they said, of our presidents, should be able to sing the presidents song quite easily. I informed them that I had not lived that long, thank you!
In addition to having academic discussions, we grandparents can help proactively teach a Biblical worldview to our grandchildren as well. Studies have shown that unless this is intentionally and proactively taught, they will not get it by osmosis. The secular worldview is bombarding them almost 24/7. It gets most of their time and attention no matter how careful and protective we adults may try to be. The same studies show that a couple of hours of church, Sunday school, and youth group were not at all adequate in instilling in them ownership of Biblical truth. Godly parents and grandparents can help make an impact in this vital area.
You grandparents—grandmothers and grandfathers alike—who are fortunate enough to live very close to your grandchildren, have a lot to offer. Even if you didn’t homeschool your own children, you can ask them to help you become equipped, enabled, encouraged, and ready to go. What is a better use of our time and energy (what energy we still have) at this time of life than to invest in the future lives of our grandchildren and the next generation?
You parents who are reading this, print it out and give it to your parents.
Some practical suggestions and questions to get you grandparents started:
- What talents do you have that you can share as a part of your grandchildren’s homeschooling?
- Where have you been? What have you seen? Whom have you met or known or heard? Can these experiences enhance their knowledge and understanding of the history they are learning or a novel they are studying?
- Read up on the five common topics that help you have a discussion using open-ended questions, then help your Challenge-aged grandchildren learn to discuss what they’ve read.
- Can you take on doing a little regular devotional with them?
- Can you discuss some pertinent things that comprise a Biblical Worldview? (See a George Barna Group report about this.)
- Can you help drill one of them on something when your son or daughter is teaching another?
- Read the wonderful articles explaining classical education you will find in the Classical Conversations Catalog and in the Writers Circle.
- Attend a free Classical Conversations Information Meeting. Bring a prospective CC family with you and learn together.
- Did you homeschool your children? You could become a Classical Conversations tutor or perhaps a Challenge Director.
- Above all, encourage your own children in their homeschooling endeavors. Just knowing that you are totally supportive of what they are attempting for God and for your grandchildren can give them that extra measure of strength needed to continue and succeed in that journey.
How about Classical Grandparents for CC? Oldies but goodies! And don’t forget that continued learning will help keep your mind strong, too!