Monday, September 3, 2012

Would I be a "Push-Face" or Not? You Decide!

I have a question for you! But first of all, any scholarly work must define terms. What on earth is a "push-face?" For the answer, I refer you to Grandma's Reference Dictionary 2012 Family Edition:

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 and 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, and they weren't always fun! Some nights found me amid 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. (Picture Brick Heck's mom, Frankie!) It is popularly and well stated by educators that parental involvement is a key factor in school success. Why not welcome grandparents to join the team?

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 feline 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!


  1. We are certainly a team around here and I do think it makes a huge difference! The fact that all of Amara's grandparents are there for the important things, like Honor Roll presentations, encourages Amara to continue to do well. She loves that we are all proud of her. I think it helps, too that I am on campus for one reason or another at least once a week. Amara's teachers know who I am and I think they take her education more seriously because they know WE take her education seriously. I am involved in the PTA and in volunteering to help at different events and all of these things help to make education something Amara knows is very important! Great post!

  2. Grandparents who have special talents and expertise should certainly be tapped whenever a grandchild is studying that subject. They should also be in attendance for school plays, awards ceremonies, spelling bees and the like, whenever possible. Whether they do more than that, I think, is up to the parents, although I am sure that many single parents and busy two-career families would welcome the help.

  3. I think Susan's comment that more than moral support is up to the parents, but I like the idea of being the "go-to" person for some area of expertise. You must live pretty close to be thinking of helping with homework, but being available to take phone calls and help could be an option for anyone who earns their grandchild's trust in knowing the answers. It's been a long time since I've done algebra. And, when my son took up Trigonometry, I tried to get him to teach me. It lasted about three weeks.

  4. Brent is only three. His sister just entered first grade. She is in the same school district as a co-worker's children so I already know some of the things that will be coming up by 3rd / 4th grade. Can't imagine the parents not welcoming some help when the larger project come up. LOL our ART DEPT was helping with the co-workers this past year.

  5. Hmm, I think it would depend on the parents and your relationship with them. In my family one set of grandparents we might be ok with doing this, the other set we would not be. And I would be more comfortable if it were a discussion and the grandparent was already an expert or good at the subject. Not just the grandparent saying I am going to become an expert on this subject so your kids will come to me when they have questions. I am planning too home school so for me it may be different than parents who wouldn't already spend their time figuring out the subject matter so they can teach it.
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