The following is a post from contributing writer, Julianna, of Petunia June.
Children who are schooled outside the home often have a number of opportunities to share their work with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. School assemblies, music concerts and open house events all showcase their work and provide a unique opportunity to highlight progress and learning. But what about the homeschooled child? How might he share his learning with others?
There are a number of ways to creatively involve extended family members in your child’s homeschool journey. Here are a few ideas to get you going:
1. Write letters. Out-of-town grandparents and cousins make ideal pen pals. Your children can share what they’ve been learning . . . the old fashioned way! Retelling a favorite book or describing the life of a historical figure through letters also serves as an excellent form of narration. Of course they’ll be thrilled to receive an answer in the mail, too! (Family correspondence could also evolve into a fun “Flat Stanley” type of project.)
2. Blog for family. Consider starting a family blog which features your child’s writing, artwork or a video of your latest science experiment. Share the link with extended family and invite feedback. This can be a great forum for a student to steadily work at producing something, perfecting it until he’s ready to finally hit “publish.”
3. Visit the workplace. Our children learn so much at the knees of their elders. Bring your children to visit family in the workplace and familiarize them with various occupations. Prepare your child to ask thoughtful questions and be engaged listeners.
4. Have your own open house. Invite family members to your home and create a relaxed atmosphere in which your children can share their work with grandparents, aunts and uncles. Students might recite poetry, perform a piano piece or share a history lesson. Serve refreshments to make it even more inviting!
5. Feature a guest speaker. Your family members are unique and each one has a story to share. How might you incorporate their story, their occupation or their field of knowledge in your school day?
Here’s a peek into our own classroom and how we benefited from inviting a “guest speaker” into our home.
One afternoon I got an email from my mom, asking if she might pop in during school sometime. Perhaps she could share something that might tie in with our lessons? I was delighted. Our history unit had been focused on the life of the Jews during the Middle Ages, and I knew that featuring a guest speaker would be a special treat for the kids. I gave my mom the details, suggesting that maybe she could run with a Jewish theme.
Well, boy did she run.
One morning, as we sat around the school table with spelling books in hand, there came a knock at the door. I kept my composure and eagerly awaited my kids’ reactions. With my permission, my six-year-old ran to the front room and peered through the window. She hesitated. “I don’t know who that is. You get it.”
Her brother offered his assistance. When he saw the strange figure, however, he quickly changed his mind. “Mommy? Can you get it?”
Big sister finally burst into the room, “I’ll get it!” She opened the door and was met by a veil-covered, basket-toting woman who introduced herself as Golde. Speaking with a strong accent, the woman asked if my daughter’s mother was available. My daughter quietly directed the woman to my attention.
And my oldest son? He snickered. After Golde and I shared a few initial pleasantries, he couldn’t take any more. “Hi, Noni,” he smirked. We couldn’t pull one over on him; the cat was out of the bag. We laughed over the surprise, but it definitely took a few minutes for the girls to calm down. It’s not often that one entertains a veiled stranger who turns out to be a relative.
We enjoyed our guest speaker immensely. Golde helped the children with their lessons. (Added bonus: their productivity was amazing!) During our morning break we feasted on the Jewish pudding-like casserole called kugel that Golde had prepared. She had done a bit of research prior to coming and shared about some of the Jewish traditions and terms that surrounded the dish.
Finally, we gathered at the piano for some serious singing. “King of Kings” was definitely on the agenda, along with a new song, “King of Glory.” The tambourines crashed frantically. We danced as Jewishly as possible while Golde pounded away at the keys.
It was eventually time to bid our Golde farewell. Swept up in the moment, the girls donned their own scarves and thought it marvelous fun to become Jewish women. We blessed each other with a dozen Mazel Tovs and kissed our visitor goodbye.
Do you have ideas to share? How have you involved extended family in your homeschool journey?
Julianna writes about family, faith and the fullness of joy over at Petunia June.