As with many families, my husband, 2 boys, and I live in a different state than any of our family. We moved away for ministry reasons. The choice to move was a difficult one, since we would be leaving all of our family behind, but it was the right one (as is every decision to follow God’s leading). We have also chosen to homeschool our boys and have been for the past 3 years. Since we live far away from our family, trying to keep them, especially grandparents, involved in our homeschooling life has been a necessity (for us and for them). I thought that I would show you a few of the things that we do so maybe it will give you ideas for your own family.
The webcam is probably one of the greatest inventions since sliced bread (probably not, but you get the idea on how important it is). This has really been the key to keeping in contact with far away family. This helps to build a relationship between my kids and their grandparents as well as keeping me sane somedays. Children being able to see their grandparents really helps to keep the relationship going. It helps their grandparents, as well, as they can see how their grandkids are growing, developing, and they are able to really know their grandkids even though they are far away. My kids are able to see and talk to their grandparents, but they are also able to share things that they have made or play silly games with them. Here are some of the things that we have been able to do with the webcam:
Share creations. For example, my older son built a Mars rover out of Legos for a Science lesson and he was able to show that to his grandparents for extra feedback. Also, they get to show off their imagination as they display all of their creations with their blocks and other toys.
Share learning. My kids have been able to share with their grandparents all that they are learning during school and life. In return, their grandparents have shown my kids some things that they have learned. Knowing that Grandma and Grandpa are still learning things really helps my kids to see the power of learning.
Play games. My kids like to play Animal Charades with their grandparents. The best is when Grandma or Grandpa get up and really get into their animal. Fun times!
Science Experiments. I have saved special activities that I thought would be fun to do “with” their grandparents. For example, we were going to do an activity for Science about the surface of Mercury. I scheduled it for the day we were going to webcam and so we were able to do it “with” their grandparents. Shared activities are always good!
Extra help. Even though they are far away, that doesn’t mean that they can’t help with their schoolwork. My son was having trouble understanding 2 digit x 1 digit multiplication problems. I had tried to help him over and over, but it just didn’t stick. My dad, who I think has a calculator for a brain, has always been great with math and helped me with my math as a kid. So, one day while we were on the webcam, I asked him if he wouldn’t mind helping my son with his math. He quickly agreed and so my son went to get his white board to be able to show his problems to his grandpa. Needless to say, my dad said the same thing that I did, but my son got it! Never underestimate the power of grandparents!
Read books. This goes both ways. Even my 3 year old likes to “read” books to his grandparents. They also like to read to him, when he’ll sit still long enough to listen.
Sing songs & play music. They have special songs that they sing with my younger son and my older son is taking guitar lessons, so he gets to show off what he is learning.
Riddles and Jokes. My kids and their grandparents have spent a lot of time saying riddles and jokes to each other. My son loves to try to stump his grandparents! Sometimes his answers don’t always make since, but they are always fun.
Ask questions. As with most children, mine ask a lot of questions. I hate to admit it, but I don’t always have the answer to their questions. But, sometimes, I know a grandparent that does have the answer. I’ll tell my children, especially my older one, to ask their grandparent the next time they see them on the webcam. We might need to make a question notebook so that he can write down all of the questions that he can bombard his grandparents with.
Teaching. My son and I are learning Greek. So, my son is able to teach his grandparents some things that he’s learning. He also likes to teach them new things in Science. For example, when he was learning about Venus, he told his grandparents about the atmosphere. He continues to “test” them on certain things and, if needed, is always willing and able to “review” the information with them.
“Share” snacks. It’s always snack time when we webcam, so my children are always eating during some of the conversation. When their grandparents happen to have the same snack at their house, they ask for the kids to share. So, my kids will reach a snack really close to the camera and their grandparents reach up to “take” it. My 3 year old really thinks that he is actually sharing his snack. Learning the value of sharing is wonderful, even if it is “computer magic”.
Communication! Sometimes my kids are sitting there “just” talking to their grandparents. That is the best thing for them (both sides). They are learning how to interact with others, as well as how to wait their turn, and other important conversational lessons that are necessary in life. My kids are learning the value of communication and that is priceless!
Sharing lives. My kids have an audience with their grandparents each and every time we webcam. My kids know that they are special to them and that their grandparents want to see them and hear all about their lives. Being able to have a relationship with their grandparents, albeit over the computer, is one of the greatest things for my kids. Their grandparents can still be in their lives even though we live too far away to visit often.