Virtual Grandparenting Part 3 - Be a Homework Helper
by Diane S. Kendall
When I was growing up one set of my grandparents lived just two blocks away. I can remember going over to their house for help with my homework - getting ready for speeches in elementary school and my German homework in high school. My other set of grandparents lived 1200 miles away but they went all out on a family genealogy school project I had. They scoured their house for pictures and called relatives who might remember more details for me. I have very fond memories of those collaborations.
Now thanks to the Internet, even if grandparents live far away, it's so much easier for them to take part in certain school projects. Some of the most obvious ways are being interviewed or surveyed or giving some direction to projects that require more extensive Internet research. But there are other ways, too. Here are some ideas:
Offer yourself as a second set of eyes for proofreading via email if the computer is part of the writing process. Sometimes distance can be an advantage. Being out of picture you can be a nonjudgmental reader and a helpful editor. You might also offer comments on organization and writing style or tips for revision -- whatever kind of involvement seems like a natural extension of your relationship with your grandchild.
Ask if there's any special way you can help when parents are away on business, out late at meetings, or just plain busy. We all sometimes just need a kernel of an idea to get started or a good first line. Be available to brainstorm a project, too.
Ferret out helpful sites for research projects. Getting back a list of 30,767 sites when starting a project on George Washington can be a bit much for an inexperienced young researcher. You can help by finding out what topic he or she needs to cover ahead of time and using a good search engine to do a little preliminary investigation yourself. Point out Web sites that are age-appropriate, have good graphics, are written clearly and have some specific information that might be helpful. Try making a "hot" list by putting the sites into a word processing document and making the URLs (the web addresses like http:// or www.) into hyperlinks. (You can do this in Microsoft Word by highlighting them by running the cursor over the URL or web address, choosing Insert from the menu at the top of the page and then choosing Hyperlink and following the directions in that box. The URL or web address then turns blue.) You can then send that list of 10 or 12 sites to your grandchild to use.