Monday, September 3, 2012
Would I be a "Push-Face" or Not? You Decide!
Push-Face, n., 1. term derived from inside family joke (derogatory) to describe black and white feline (female) member who notoriously "pushes her face" into everything that both is and is not her business. (see photo) 2. a family member (female) of grandmother age who assumes her opinions and presence are enthusiastically welcome at any and every event that involves her grandchildren. (photo not available)
see also: "meddler"
Okay! Now we're on the same page vocabulary-wise! The idea that I've had bobbing around inside my head was seeded during school-age years of my own three daughters. I actually loved buying the poster boards, the paints, the stickers, and supervising everything so that our science posters would feature planets that actually revolved, thereby delivering "shock and awe" to the classroom on the day they were due. Our work sessions were intense, but they weren't always fun! Some nights found me amidst a "perfect storm" where Mary Jo had a complex geometry puzzle to solve and illustrate, Christy was hopelessly scrambling to construct a scale model reptile habitat, and Karen needed a practice audience for a speech demonstrating an object folded in the origami method. Help! Remember the ABC comedy episode of "The Middle" where Brick's salt dough map of Indiana was accidentally eaten and he was forced to get help from Axel to replace it with one made of pizza? Poor little guy! He could have come to our house. We would have fit him in somehow!
Where I am going with this is in the direction of "Grandparent Team School Mentors" (or something like that!). The idea is to choose a classroom subject with each grandchild and serve as the "go-to" person when help is needed in that category. That means that grandma might help prepare for a big test by hosting a Civil War Quiz Bowl at her house and having grandpa appear dressed up like Abe Lincoln to describe his well researched observations. (Good luck with that last part!) As the history book moves through every era of time and place, homework posters and dioramas are made at grandma's too, because she has all the supplies waiting. There might be a sugar cube pyramid making party just for fun when the subject is geography or math. Grandma can examine the textbook and prepare creative enrichment projects related to chapters ahead, too. For example, a study of the American southwest might be complemented with a painting session in the style of artist Georgia O'Keefe. If grandkids don't live nearby, grandma can hand make science vocabulary flashcards and mail them to her little scholars.
So, is something like this needless meddling ("push-facing")? Should kids just learn to take their own responsibility and leave parents, and especially grandparents, out of it entirely? I'm not really sure! I'm leaning heavily toward thinking it's a productive idea, though. And this is why. I personally am continually encouraged and appreciated for any kind of learning experiences I offer my grandkids. I think their mommies and daddies would welcome help even more in days ahead when back packs start coming home brimming with assignments to complete. I think parents would sigh with relief that at least one category per kid can be crossed off their list! (Think: "Brick Heck's mom, Frankie!") And, although it is well and popularly stated by educators that parental involvement is a key factor in school success, one organization articulately acknowledges the value of grandparents in the lives of children and challenges us to celebrate Grandparents Day 2012 (September 9th) by promoting and participating in intergenerational programs. Visit Grandparents Day.org for an appealing presentation on this topic!
I've presented my scientific theory and have set out to prove its validity. To accompany this effort, I have written a set of guidelines for consideration by those who might choose to become Grandparent Team School Mentors. Here goes!
1. Be competent in your field! Even our little Miss Push-Face doesn't want my math "expertise!"
2. Keep the subject exciting for your grandchild by continually seeking ideas, projects, and accurate information online and at the library. Pore through books for little known facts to share. Ones that teacher might not know are the best ones yet!
3. Look for local places of interest that might make a worthwhile related field trip. Not just museums. Study plant life with a sketch pad trip to a pond. Contrast what is seen there with foliage found in an open field. Examine old headstones at a cemetery to bring history to life...err, I mean "death," I suppose!
4. Establish from the beginning that you and grandpa are homework helpers, or coaches only. This means that you will not accept or acknowledge emails that request "two pages, double spaced, on the US Space Program by Sunday night, please grandma!" (Fresh in my mind is the call from a 5th grade Mary Jo asking if I would not only drop off the math book and homework she forgot, but do the last four problems before I came!)
5. Establish a team feeling with the child by continually checking in on classroom progress. Celebrate together when grades are good. But when they are not? Well, for that, a personal visit to the teacher might be in order. Grab Miss Smarty-Pants by the collar and demand to know if she realizes who your grandchild is.......whoa! Oh, well okay! I guess not that. No, let's just do the celebrating part for the good grades your grandchild is almost guaranteed when it is assured that "grandma has my back on whatever they throw at me in this subject." And really, I think once that team gets established, there will be some great effort to not disappoint the cheering, poster-board-packing coach back home!
Okay! Your turn! Thanks in advance for your wise comments!