Homeschooling is on the rise today in the USA, with roughly 6% of school-age children home-schooled during the 2020-2021 school year. While homeschooling gives parents the opportunity for their children to gain a solid education and also explore topics of interest to them, it can become a burden if the parents need to work. There is a possible solution that can broaden your child’s education through pairing a young person with a grandparent, or an older person mentoring program.
Why Grandparents or Elderly People
This type of situation can be a win-win for everyone. Older people have life experiences that they can share with young people. And if they were in the medical field or STEM fields, they have considerable knowledge to pass on to young people. It can give an older person a sense of purpose to engage in an active activity with young people.
Even living far away, many parents and young people can engage in online platforms such as Zoom to interact on a daily basis. Though they may not be able to visit often in person, technology today makes it easier for personal interaction.
Broadening a Child’s Worldview
Connecting regularly with older people, whether it is the grandparents or older people in a tutoring program, helps students to develop a better understanding of how older people, even with walkers and life alert systems, are still making contributions and being a part of the community. This also develops better perspectives on aging. Older people can also learn from the modern world of today’s youth. In the end, it creates empathy and understanding while building a child’s education.
Being able to homeschool with a grandparent allows children to learn from their life experiences. The gap between generations can be quite large, and intimate learning experiences can close that gap and create new familial bonds.
One concern with homeschooling has always been a potential lack of opportunities to socialize with others, but in recent years this has changed. Homeschool groups have come together to offer students opportunities to become involved in sports, take trips to local museums, and even engage in nature hikes. These are also things that a grandparent can help supervise. It also gives students an opportunity in the real world to reinforce what they have learned in school.
Organized mentoring programs match children with seniors so they can work on homeschool lessons, as well as alternative learning opportunities such as visits to a park or local museum. In the end, this type of relationship benefits both the child and the senior they are working with.
When many people retire, they can find themselves with long, empty days to fill. Over time, this can lead to a lack of purpose and a search for a positive next step. Mentoring youth is one way to do that in a meaningful way. And volunteering brings out the best in all of us.
Typically in most areas there will be local community organizations that actively connect seniors with young people for tutoring, homeschooling, and mentoring, such as these:
- Local Community Center. Many community centers have programs that connect young people with seniors in their neighborhoods. While the community center provides a safe space for activities, it can also be a place where students can complete their lessons and homework under the guidance of a senior.
- Foster Grandparents Program. This is a very popular program offered through Senior Corps. It is designed to help seniors find an enriching way to contribute their time and skills. The program is open to anyone 55 years of age or older and pairs them with young people. This program has a wide range of children involved from those in homeschooling, Head Start, and those in foster care or transitioning out juvenile detention.
- United Way. Some United Way chapters maintain databases of organizations that are looking for volunteers to mentor and tutor students. These volunteers are often placed at elementary schools and with after-school programs.
- Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). This organization partners with other nonprofit organizations to place seniors in mentoring and tutoring opportunities in the area.
Mentoring programs are not the only options to relieve the burden of working parents and still maintain the attention a child needs. If a grandparent is not available, sometimes a neighbor or retired teacher will find the opportunity to meaningfully engage with a young person as a wonderful chance to put their skills to work.
Benefits of Learning from Seniors
Seniors have a lot of knowledge and life experiences to impart. They also have time and patience to help students understand complex principles. They may also be able to offer additional learning experiences such as music and art lessons to give a broader learning experience. And one unmeasured benefit may also be that elders show young ones that volunteering is a good thing at any age.
Many seniors have worked as engineers, mathematicians, scientists and in technology so this makes them the perfect fit to teach these subjects. As the opportunities for advancement in these areas grow, it’s important that students are grounded in these subjects. One-on-one mentoring with an experienced retired professional can make that happen.
Grandparents and mentors are invaluable when it comes to the homeschool education of children. It relieves some burden from working parents and gives the student a broader view and experience in life.