When the Grandkids Go Back to School: How Can the Grandparents Be a Support?
Ah, the mornings are getting cooler and the leaves are beginning to change color! It must be back to school time! However, instead of my own kids, it’s the time when my grandkids go back to school.
*This post may contain affiliate links. All this means is that we get a small commission at no additional cost to you if you click through to the product. I don’t recommend products that I don’t use myself and LOVE! Please see our disclosure page for more details.
In the movie, You’ve Got Mail, Meg Ryan’s character says that Fall makes her want to “buy a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.”
Well. . .I don’t just wish to do it. . .I ACTUALLY DO!!!
Yes, I’m one of those weird people that has to go out and buy “school supplies” when I see all the back-to-school sales. It feels like a new start – kind of that same feeling I get in January. I tend to set new goals, re-organize, and make lists for the holidays.
Each year when school starts, I start wondering how I can best support my children and grandchildren during the upcoming year. Education has always been high on my list, and I want my grandchildren to succeed in school and be happy doing it.
So, here are my top 15 things that make a difference when the grandkids go back to school
Attend Back-to-School Night or Meet the Teacher night
When the grandkids go back to school, it’s good to become familiar with the teacher and school policies. Then, if you have to pick up your grandkids from school, everyone will know you.
Offer to volunteer at the school
Most schools are in desperate need of volunteers and there are so many ways you can help. The volunteer things are usually pretty simple – like listening to kids read or helping in the library – they mostly just take a little of your time.
Offer to help with homework
Most grandparents can at least help with simple homework. Personally, I like to stick to the elementary kids’ homework. Ha ha! In talking to some other grandparents, one of the most intimidating subjects seems to be writing. (Geez! I would have thought it was math – maybe that’s because math is MY nemesis!!)
Of those I talked to, many told me that they get hung up on those pesky grammar issues. Hey! Guess what? I cheat! There’s an app for that! 😉 I use Grammarly.com. It’s free to use (unless you want upgrade to a premium account). I simply added the Chrome extension on my computer and it picks up grammar issues on everything I write! Anyway, it can certainly be a lifesaver when you’re helping the grandkids.
. . .especially reading homework!
When my six children were young, they were each required to read for 20 minutes each night. During much of that time, I was working full time in an office. When I got home at night, I had to get dinner ready, give the kids baths, help with homework, sign school papers, and hopefully listen to everyone’s day. . .including my hubby.
Heaven forbid if any of us had somewhere to be like a meeting or music practice or a soccer game. Some nights, it was a miracle if I had a minute to even acknowledge my husband’s presence. Now, exactly WHEN was I supposed to fit in 2 hours for reading (20 minutes with each child)???
At that point, I would have been grateful for grandparents who could have helped in this area. So, when the grandkids go back to school, I feel like that is one place I can help! And I can read with those grandchildren who live near-by or even thoes who are far away.
New school supplies or clothes
You can offer to help buy school supplies or new school clothes. (Make sure that you have the parents’ blessing before you go on a shopping spree. Tread lightly and don’t overdo it!) If you have long-distance grandchildren, you can always send gift cards to their favorite stores. (My favorite is Target because I know that’s where my DIL shops the most. And of course. . .I shop Target way too much, because I save 5% across the board on ALL my purchases with their RedCard! Hey, it’s better than nothing, right?)
Special reminder gifts
You can give a special gift that signifies the start of a new school year. It could be something like a new backpack or book. For me, I like to give my grandchildren something that they see every day to remind them that reminds them that I am still here and thinking about them while they are at school.
Honestly, it doesn’t have to be anything big and flashy. I love giving my Littles backpack charms. They love making them with me. . .so, it’s a win-win! (Go ahead and download the tutorials and I’ll show you our favorite ones!)
Taking the kids on a special “end of summer” outing or throwing a back-to-school party could be an awesome tradition for grandparents. (My pick? Oriental Trading! Great party stuff at great prices and you can get 2 or 3-day shipping in many places!)
Get a Calendar of Events
Make sure you get a calendar of major events for the school year as soon as the grandkids go back to school. That way, you won’t miss out on any of the fun things that you would like to attend.
But. . .a word of caution! Remember that what you do once may become an expectation for years to come. You also might want to think about if you make the Christmas program or Halloween parade at one school and not another, you may find yourself in a bit of trouble. So, make it clear that you are not playing favorites, but that every event may not fit into your schedule.
I try to get to as many things as possible to support all my Littles, but sometimes it’s a bit of a challenge as they go to four different schools!
Go to the school to have lunch with your grandchildren. The kids really LOVE this! However, one word of caution! I would advise taking your own lunch as school lunches haven’t really improved since we were kids. Ha ha!
If you’re available, help with pick up or drop off when needed. I sure could have used this kind of help when my kids were in school. I ended up relying heavily on friends and kind neighbors for carpooling.
Check in with kids if they are alone before or after school. My grandmother lived with us in a studio apartment behind our house when I was growing up. Even though she couldn’t do much, she was able to walk in the house after I got home from school and just check in with me and ask me about my day. It was a nice feeling to know that there was an adult watching over me.
With all the technology available to us these days, you could even do this as a long-distance grandparent. Don’t let the distance keep you from hearing about their lives just because your grandkids go back to school and now they’re busy.
If mom is busy but is committed to bringing treats for a class party or your grandchild’s birthday, you could offer to bring the treats for her. I know I would have greatly appreciated the help!
Be the photographer
Go with the parents on the first day of school to take pictures. . .well, any school event really. That way, the parents can be in the photos with their children.
Offer to babysit
Once school is back in session, there may be less time that you get to spend with them. To get more time, you can offer to tend the grandchildren after school once in a while or on school holidays while the parents are working or running errands. . .or just taking a nap!
Watch for Grandparents Day!
Many elementary (or primary) schools have fun activities for grandparents and grandchildren. This usually happens in September right after the grandkids go back to school. So, be on the lookout for it at Back-to-School night!
I have one last item on this list. . .Watch your boundaries!
While all of this seems helpful and kind, sometimes it can be seen as judgmental (as when buying things) or too intrusive (as in being around too often). You know your children. Try to be respectful of the things that they want to be exclusively just them and their kids. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t get offended over any of it!
So. . .How Do YOU Feel When the Grandkids Go Back to School?
If you’re like me, having the grandkids go back to school gives me that same bittersweet feeling that I had when my own kids started school each year. We always had so much fun each summer, but it was always nice to get back to the routines.
I’m blessed with enough energy and time to be able to spend a lot of time with my grandkids each summer – sleepovers, activities, outings, Camp NanaPapa (our Grandma Camp), reading, and doing crafts together. So, when the grandkids go back to school, I like to still be involved in their lives and support them. It’s all part of building those, oh so precious, relationships.
If you would like more back-to-school ideas, please visit the blogs at the end of this post!
Cookies & Milk for Everyone!
Want More Back-to-School Ideas??
Here are some super moms who share their best Back-to-School ideas with you! They have all created some fun freebies to give you just for visiting. So, hop on over for some of the very best back-to-school ideas around!!
Lisa from Gather Love, LLC, – is sharing some yummy Ideas for school and workday lunches
Traci from The Frugal Work at Home Mom – Ways to save money on back-to-school shopping (P.S. Some of these tips will work for Christmas shopping as well 😉)
Beth from Moore Wellness, is here to help us with some de-stressing ideas with – Taking the stress out of going back to school
Carrie & Nina from Forget Him Knot are sharing some inspiration – 52 Bible Verses for the School Year
Kelly from Homesteadin’ Crazy is an expert on growing healthy food – She has the low down on how to create healthy after-school snacks for those kiddos!
And. . .for those who have special needs grandchildren, we’ve got you covered:
Michelle from Autism Mom Life is sharing with us – How to prep your special needs family for starting a new school year
Tiff from Spectrum Sense for Moms has some great helps for those grandparents who tend their special needs grandkids – How to Handle After-School Meltdowns