By Heather Schwarz From Knowable World
What if I told you there is a free way to get more help in your homeschool - a way that also has huge benefits for your child and for the important people in your life?
I learned this secret when my son was in fifth grade.
We had already finished all the lessons in our favourite science curriculum and I couldn’t decide what to do next. Nothing we looked at left my son and I feeling particularly inspired.
He wanted something practical and hands-on, something that he could really use. I just didn’t want it to be a lot of work for me!
One day it occurred to me that my dad, an electrician, might enjoy teaching him something. I found a project-based electronics book on Amazon and asked him what he thought of teaching a class based on the book. He was excited to do it!
So, for my son’s whole fifth-grade year, he went to my dad’s shop for an hour every Wednesday night. They played with batteries and breadboards, learned about ohms and amps, made a battery out of a lemon, and possibly caused a small explosion or two.
My son learned some very practical science lessons, they both made some lifelong memories, and I didn’t have to worry about science for a whole year!
Getting your extended family members involved in your homeschool has benefits for your child, your loved ones, and, very importantly, for you!
Numerous studies have shown the positive mental, emotional, and social effects of having caring adults (especially grandparents) involved in a child’s life. Studies have also shown that grandparents who spend more time with their grandchildren are healthier and live longer!
Of course, it’s not only grandparents who can be involved in our homeschooling.
Uncles, aunts, friends and even neighbors are all important adults in your child’s life, and strong relationships with trusted adults are endlessly beneficial for children.
In addition to being good for your kids and good for your loved ones, having more support in your homeschool is a great benefit for you! You can share some of the load of lesson planning, teaching, inspiring and motivating your child - or simply the time-consuming tasks like driving them to music lessons.
If your family members are skeptical about your choice to homeschool, getting them involved can give them a chance to see how your child is learning and thriving and show them how they can better support your efforts to give your child a great education.
You can be creative about ways that your family members can get involved with your homeschool. Some may be willing to give their time - to spend an afternoon baking with your six-year-old, to drive your teen to soccer practice, or to take your kids skating each week for some physical activity.
Another way they can help is by sharing their experience or expertise. A musician uncle could help them learn the guitar. An aunt who loves to research family history could teach them about where their family comes from and who their ancestors were.
Whatever talents or experiences are in your family, you can turn them into valuable learning opportunities for your kids.
These could take the form of scheduled, structured lessons, but they don’t have to! Children can learn so much just by spending time with talented people sharing their talents.
Another important way your extended family can contribute to your homeschool is by sharing their values, passions, and interests. Children truly benefit from seeing how other adults live their lives - what is important to them, what they make time for, and what lights them up.
If you’re reading this and thinking that it doesn’t apply to you because you don’t have any extended family living nearby, don’t worry!
With a little creativity, you can still use these ideas in your homeschool, too. If you have relatives who would love to be involved but don’t live nearby, consider:
- Having your child interview your family member over Zoom or FaceTime, or doing some research and presenting their findings to them
- Starting a pen-pal letter exchange with them through the mail (fantastic handwriting and composition practice!)
The next time you visit, do a unit study related to the history, geography, or another unique feature of the place where your relative lives
If you don’t have any relatives who can be involved in your homeschool, that’s okay too. You can always expand your definition of “family” to include the “chosen family” of friends, neighbors, or even other homeschooling families in your area.
I hope these guidelines have helped you think of some ways that you can get your extended family involved in your homeschool. And I hope you’re feeling excited about getting started!