Spring break for us means school is out and a great time to visit grandparents that live in another city. Our family resides in Philadelphia, and despite the general lack of spring-like weather, one day was agreeable enough for a trip to the zoo. Large crowds necessitated keeping an extra close eye on both of my boys, which had the unexpected benefit of allowing me close observance of their grandmother in action.Numerous things caught my attention that I could have easily overlooked, and struck me as useful tools for my own parenting toolbox. As we ambled, she made casual use of environmental print by asking our older son to read signs intermittently but not overwhelmingly. Our little one was included too, being asked to “read” signs that were identifiable more by shape and color (such as a stop sign), setting the stage for later early reading practice. Along the path, she would stop and comment on the different trees, identifying the different types, comparing characteristics such as size and shape, and connecting it all to the trees found around our neighborhood at home. When we went home and the boys were recounting the trip to their father, I realized how she guided them by asking about the most impressive parts of the visit, how it compared to other zoos they have visited, and what would they like to do the next time we visited. What could have been a mundane trip to the zoo was an enriching experience thanks to our grandmother’s presence.
It is amazing what we can learn from watching how grandparents interact with our children. With plenty of experience under the belt, grandparents are a wonderful source of both new ideas for ways to connect with our children, and reminders for what we may already know but can occasionally forget. If you reflect on your childhood experiences, what are the moments that you most easily recall about learning with your parents? We can relive those moments, now in the role of parent, and perhaps create the same meaningful memories for our children.
This guest blog post was written by Harriet Hare’s daughter-in-law, Rachel, who lives in Chicago.