Have you ever stopped to think how important grandparents are? Our children's grandparents can be the most wonderful resource, both to us as parents, and to our kids. Sometimes in all the hurly burly of busy lives we can forget this fact. That's why I like the idea of Grandparents Day. Many countries have this special day -- in the USA, it's the first Sunday in September after Labor Day; in Australia in 2015, it's October 25. It's a great time to remind ourselves of what grandparents mean to us, and to celebrate with them.
Grandmas and Grandpas love to hear about our kids' successes and milestones. Whether this event is as simple as a first word, first tooth, or twentieth gold star at school, you can rely on grandparents to take an interest. I love to encourage kids to contact their grandparents and let them know about such exciting events. It's an excellent learning experience for children to visit, phone, write a letter, Skype, or record a video to send to Grandpa/Grandma. For grandparents who are far away, it helps them feel closer too.
Another thing I've noticed about grandparents is that they're great at being a cheer squad. They think our kids are wonderful too, and adore to enter into children's pride in their accomplishments. Grandparents excel at reading books aloud to kids. Thanks to modern technology, they can do this even if they are far away. Turn about is only fair! Kids who read aloud to grandparents are assured of an appreciative audience.
Thanking grandparents for their gifts and time is just good manners. But Grandparents Day might be a good time to sit down with kids and discuss how important and loved their grandparents are. Reflecting for a few moments on shared experiences and fun might be all the inspiration your kids need to let their grandparents know how they feel. They might choose to write a poem, a list, or a song. They might paint a portrait or create a gift. Whatever they do, I can guarantee it will be so much appreciated by Grandpa and Grandma.
Some schools have a special Grandparents Day event. This allows grandparents to visit classrooms and see their grandkids in this special environment. At my school we always combined this day with a Book Fair. Turns out, grandparents love to encourage reading and are great book buyers. But best of all, we found both children and grandparents benefited from the opportunity to get to know each other better. We always encouraged kids whose grandparents couldn't attend to “borrow” a surrogate for the day. Grandparents were invited to share memories of their own school days, and everyone enjoyed a barbecue lunch together. There are some excellent ideas for events that celebrate the role grandparents play in our lives here.
One thing children may not be aware of is the important roles grandparent play as volunteers in our communities. Some grandparents look after children so their parents can go to work. Others put in hours working for charities and non-profit organizations. Some grandmas read stories to children in libraries; some grandpas teach youngsters how to use tools to make things. Nobody pays them for their time -- they take on these tasks as a way to show they care and to give back to the community.
So, let's hear it for grandparents!
Are grandparents important in your family life? What will you and your children do to celebrate Grandparents Day this year? Let us know on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page.