Today, many grandparents are more involved in helping raise their grandchildren than ever before. Economic and social changes have created a need for grandparents to step up and assist in the process of raising children. While children may be enjoying their last few days of summer, the new school year is just around the corner. The preparation for school has started and grandparents may be asked to help. Whether you are assisting full-time or just filling in, you may want to consider what your new role may entail. Let’s discuss how you can support your family during this exciting time for your grandchildren.

Back to School Tips for Grandparents

To make the back-to-school process as smooth as possible for grandparents and grandchildren, consider the following tips.

1. Scale back the bedtime hour now

Several weeks before school begins start gradually scaling back bedtime so that by the time school starts your grandchildren are going to bed and getting up at the same time they will for school. It takes several weeks for the body clock to adjust itself, so it’s important to start now.

2. Shop for school supplies with your grandchild

Your grandchild will gain a sense of ownership by picking their own supplies. Make a fun day out of picking out school supplies!

3. Provide daily learning time

Set aside at least 15 to 30 minutes per day for education time before school starts so homework time won’t come as such a shock.

4. Meet the teacher

Attend the meet-the-teacher event at school. Take a picture of the teachers with your grandchildren and put it on the fridge. Ask the teacher for an outline of the school day so you can prepare your grandchildren. Make sure your grandchildren know where the bathrooms are, can open the locker, etc.

5. Arrange a play date with a classmate before school starts

Arranging a play date with future classmates will help your grandchild have at least one friend they know in their classroom.

6. Develop an end-of-summer ritual

Rituals build predictability and help kids feel secure. Consider creating a scrapbook of the summer’s events or going to an amusement park for one last hurrah.

7. Create a morning map

Determine the amount of time needed to do each morning task before school and then add 10 minutes of extra time. Then, create a cartoon strip with pictures of each task, and the time to start and end the task. This can help in getting kids out the door on time.

8. Develop a menu with nutritious breakfast selections

Experiment with breakfast foods that are easy, nutritious, and well-liked by your grandchildren. Create a menu that your grandkids can check off the night before each school day.

9. Create a “command center” for all paperwork

Buy a hanging file box and create a hanging folder for each activity for each child and their school work. This can be helpful for your own activities as well. Store all paperwork in this central location so everyone in the family can access the schedules and information when needed.

10. Determine where “homework central” will be for each child

Have your grandchildren help pick where they’ll do homework each day. Also, buy supplies (i.e., erasers, a calculator, paper, pencils, ruler, etc.) that will be put in this area. Getting children excited about a workspace can be very helpful!

Back to school can be a stressful time for grandchildren. In some, but rare cases, an increase in anxiety might occur and grandchildren could act out. The best response to increased anxiety is for grandparents to provide empathy and support, help the child gain a sense of control, provide rituals for predictability, get organized, teach the child how to de-stress, and make sure the child is getting enough sleep and eating foods packed with nutrition.

How can you be involved in your grandchildren’s education?

Here are additional tips that can be helpful to the family. Some of these tips can even be practiced by grandparents that don’t live in the same community.

  • Get involved with the school curriculum and be available to help with homework, either virtually or in person.
  • Obtain a copy of the yearly event / academic calendar.
  • Get your name on the volunteer roster.
  • Make sure your name is on the “pick up list” if you are needed to assist with picking up your grandchildren.
  • Go to lunch with your grandchild.
  • Provide additional learning tools and opportunities, including games, puzzles, educational toys, arts, and crafts.
  • Take the kids for educational field trips, as schools will not be offering them.
  • Help with drop off and pick up, in a safe and responsible way (particularly important within household bubbles vs carpooling).
  • Read or listen to books with grandkids, either in person or online.
  • Encourage their writing skills through emails, writing letters, diaries, or blog posts.
  • Attend School open house and meet the teachers.
  • Prepare family meals – include the kids in the cooking.

Things to keep a record of

  • The teacher’s names for each of your grandchildren.
  • What time does the school day officially begin?
  • What time does the school day end?
  • Who is on the emergency contact list?
  • What time the student is considered tardy in the morning?
  • When is lunchtime, how long is lunch, and where is the lunchroom located?
  • Which days are PE (sadly, PE does not occur every day)? If your grandchild is spending the night with you on a school night and the next day is PE, they may require special clothing or shoes.
  • The bus number and driver’s name if your student rides the bus.

Be sure to keep the lines of communication open with your grandchildren’s parents so they are aware of your involvement. You are here to support them, and, in some cases, they may have mixed emotions about not being available to be there for their children. They need to understand that you are able to provide the help they need.

Additional Reading: Making the First Day of School Easier – Healthy Children (American Academy of Pediatrics)

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