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Five Important Things Grandparents Can Teach Grandchildren

My mother with her first great-grandchild, Matthew, in 1988

My mother with her first great-grandchild, Matthew, in 1988

Grandparent's Role as Teacher

Grandparents play many roles when it comes to their grandchildren—babysitters, nurses, caregivers, playmates, friends and even substitute parents and teachers are just a few hats they wear. Their unique position of trust allows them to help nurture and shape their grandchildren’s lives.

One of the most important things that grandparents do for their grandchildren is to spend time with them. During their time with grandparents, children learn important lessons that will remain with them all their lives. While grandparents love to shower their grandchildren with gifts and goodies, the greatest gift they give is their time– time that offers a wonderful opportunity to pass on core values, beliefs and skills to their grandchildren.

One important role that grandparents assume is that of teacher. Here are five important things that grandparents can teach grandkids during the special times they spend together.

1. Teach Them to Love Reading

One of the most rewarding things grandparents can do with their grandchildren is read to them. Reading to young children improves their cognitive and language skills and improves their reading comprehension. Even before the kids learn to talk, they enjoy sitting in grandma’s lap to look at picture books. Use this special time to teach words, colors, letters and objects and tell stories about the pictures. All are ways to teach children to love books and to love reading.

Giving children books that are interesting and fun to read is also a way to encourage them. Grandparents can take the kids to the library for storytime or help them choose their own books, something that busy working parents might not have time to do.

2. Teach Them a Skill You Have

Do you knit, crochet, garden, bird watch, do woodworking? Grandchildren will love doing these activities with you as you share something you love with them. My grandmother shared her love of gardening by taking me on walks through her extensive flower gardens, explaining how each flower liked shade or sun, how to propagate from cuttings or seeds.

She made beautiful crochet doilies and tablecloths, and she could reproduce any design just from looking at a photograph. She taught me to value things that we create with our own hands, and she passed on her love of crocheting to me. One of the things I taught my granddaughter was how to crochet—it was fun for both of us, and we enjoyed some wonderful talks as we worked.

If you are good at crafts, you might enjoy holding a craft day for your grandchildren. My grandchildren especially enjoyed working with polymer clay to make figurines and magnets. We also had a grand time making collages one year as this is something that you can do with several children at a time. Even the youngest will enjoy pasting pictures onto cardboard.

Grandfathers can share their knowledge of woodworking, mechanics and sports by teaching the basics to their grandsons and granddaughters. Grandsons who make their first birdhouse or granddaughters who learn to change the oil in their first car will always remember where they learned how to do it.

Here the whole family makes pirogies for Christmas Eve dinner.

Here the whole family makes pirogies for Christmas Eve dinner.

3. Teach Them the Family Traditions

Grandparents are a treasure store of family history. Grandchildren will love to hear stories about their parents as young children or about their grandparents’ lives in the “olden days”. Even very young children enjoy looking at old family photo albums, and this is a great time to tell them some family history.

My own grandchildren always loved looking at old photo albums, and still do. As they got older, they wanted to know more about the family history, and they especially liked stories about their parents’ escapades.

4. Teach Them Good Manners

While parents are the first ones to teach children manners, grandparents can reinforce the basics, and share some of the finer points of etiquette with their grandchildren through fun activities. Grandparents can help kids write thank you notes, teach them to share, teach them that it’s good manners to put the cell phone away when at the dinner table. When grandchildren spend the night at grandma’s house, it’s a good opportunity to teach them how to be a good houseguest, respect other people’s property and clean up after themselves. Somehow, kids find clearing the table or making their beds less painless when Grandmother asks them to help out than they do at home.

5. Teach Them Good Values

Grandparents often spend blocks of quality time with their grandchildren, and they can have a deep influence on their grandchild’s values. They can help teach their grandchildren respect for each other and for other people by listening and responding to them respectfully. They can teach their grandchildren to tell the truth and to act honorably, to be kind to other people and to animals. By their words and actions, grandparents teach their grandchildren tolerance and empathy for people who are different from themselves.

Teach Your Grandchildren Something Today

My mother-in-law was a terrific grandmother, and often reminded us that we should enjoy our children while they were young because the time went by so quickly. I never fully appreciated it until I was a grandmother, and I saw how quickly my grandchildren went from infants to college graduates.

As a grandmother I came to understand that there is a narrow window of time to do certain things. The years that we enjoy with grandchildren while they are young are precious and fleeting, and we can make the most of this precious time by teaching our grandkids about the things we love, the things we love to do, our values and our families. Why not teach your grandchild something special the next time you spend time together?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: What should I do with grandchildren who want to stay in their room because that's the way they are at home?

Answer: Some kids are so used to entertaining themselves with their personal electronics that it's hard to get them to break away from them. Try enticing them with some activities that they will enjoy. Would they like baking cookies, playing a game with you, painting or doing a craft? Even my techie grandchildren can be bribed with an offer to go to the beach or to play miniature golf. Think outside the box for ideas that will appeal to them.

Question: What are the things that may or do cause unpleasantness in grandparent/grandchild relationships?

Answer: Grandparents often walk a fine line when they have to abide by the child's parents' rules. Unpleasantness can crop up when parents and grandparents disagree on what is best for the child or how to discipline the child. Children are sensitive to any strain between adults, and disagreements between the adults closest to the child might put the child in a position of taking sides or playing one adult against another. As in any relationship, excessive criticism lack of interest in their lives, or being too demanding can damage the way children relate to their grandparents.


Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on October 24, 2017:

Patricia Scott - Absolutely! Grandparents provide unconditional love and support!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on October 24, 2017:

Good a grandmother I also feel a need to tell them how worthy they are...

Angels are on the way to you today ps

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on October 15, 2014:

Aesta1 - Sometimes the longest lasting memories are of the most ordinary moments in our lives. Your memory of your grandmother taking you to school shows just how important it is to just spend time with our grandchildren...they will remember!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 15, 2014:

I had a short but heartwarming memory of my grandmother as she used to accompany me to school when I started. I try to really have fun with our grandchildren now.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 10, 2014:

Colin323 - Grandparents do have a lot of wisdom that could be helpful to other family members...the trick is to get them to listen! :)

Colin323 on September 09, 2014:

Grandparents can make great referees, too: to be the people that their children and grandchildren can go to settle problems. Grandparents can often see both sides of the problem and will look for solutions out of tricky family situations.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on August 22, 2014:

OhMe - I'm with you-- I love being a grandmother, and think that grandparents play an important role in teaching their grandchildren. Besides that, we get to spoil them, too! :)

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on August 22, 2014:

You have chosen 5 very important things to teach our grandchildren and I sure enjoyed reading this. I do love being a grandparent and want to be a good one.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on June 05, 2014:

Manatita44 - I still miss my wonderful grandmother who taught me so many things. She was a fine role model for me, and I hope to pass that on to my grandchildren. Thank you so much for your comment!

manatita44 from london on June 05, 2014:

Nice Hub. How we miss you great Grandmothers. Many valuable lessons you have to share. God bless you all.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on October 05, 2013:

Schoolmom24 - Thanks so much for sharing some of your memories of your time spent with your grandmother and mother. Children can learn so much from the older generation, and learning a skill from a grandparent is a priceless memory to hold forever.

Schoolmom24 from Oregon on October 05, 2013:

Loved this hub! I'm not a grandparent yet since I'm still raising my daughters, but I have wonderful memories of my own grandmother and I heartily agree with everything you've listed. My grandmother taught me to the basics of knitting and crocheting when I was around 13...I never did it, and then when I had an interest in recent years and went to look it up, all of came rushing back to me! It was still there in my memory, under the surface, from those quiet moments with my grandma sitting on her sofa.

And I would love to hear stories of what it was like when she was a little girl "in the olden days". So important to pass these memories down from generation to generation!

My own mom in recent years has lost much of her eyesight and is not physically able to do very much- we must do for her. But when my girls were very little, she was still able to read them stories and do things with them and they are precious memories.

You did a wonderful job with this hub....I voted this up! :)

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 09, 2013:

radhikasree - How nice that your child's school makes a special celebration for Grandparent's Day! Thanks for the read and for your comments!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 09, 2013:

Jenbeach21 - How lucky your children are to have such wonderful grandparents. I know they'll always remember the times they shared with them.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 09, 2013:

Rebeccamealey - Thanks for stopping in! Hope you had a lovely day!

Radhika Sreekanth from Mumbai,India on September 09, 2013:

Kids as well as grandparents enjoyed themselves in my child's school last week on the occasion of GrandParents' Day. Nice tips here.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on September 08, 2013:

Thank you Stephanie! :)

jenbeach21 from Orlando, FL on September 08, 2013:

Great hub Stephanie. My children's grandparents play a huge role in the lives of my children. They do all that you mentioned and they shower them with unconditional love!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on September 08, 2013:

How awesome! Thanks so much for promoting Grandparent's Day!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 08, 2013:

Happy Grandparent's Day to you, too, Sunshine! Love the picture of you with your chickies!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on September 08, 2013:

Happy Grandparents Day to you!!!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 08, 2013:

AudreyHowitt - Thank you for your comments, Audrey. My grandparents were also very important in my life.

Audrey Howitt from California on September 08, 2013:

I treasure the times that I spent with my grandmother and hope that everyone loves and feels loved today!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 28, 2013:

Vellur - Grandparents do play an important role in their grandchildren's lives, particularly when they are able to develop close bonds with them. I loved the pampering part, but also loved sharing my skills and knowledge with my grandchildren. Thank you for visiting my hub and for your comments!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on April 28, 2013:

A beautiful hub, grand parents are very special and play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren. They pamper them silly and also teach valuable lessons. Great hub, voted up.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 09, 2013:

Hi Midget, Grandparents have shaped our lives, and we are lucky if we have the opportunity to influence and teach our own grandchildren. Thanks so much for stopping by to read and for the share!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 09, 2013:

Hi Sunshine, Isn't it amazing how many little traits our grandchildren share with us? I know you're an awesome Grandma, and will be a huge positive influence on Faith and Lily. How lucky they are to have you so close!

Michelle Liew from Singapore on March 08, 2013:

And that's how grandma and grandpa shape our lives!! Lots of truth there, Stephanie!! A great write, which I share.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on March 08, 2013:

Awesome tips Stephanie! I do them all. Each day I realize how much I influence Faith and soon Lily also. Faith and I lack one thing...patience, we are both working on that issue together! :))

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 31, 2012:

Brett.Tesol - It's true that while grandparents teach their grandchildren many things, they are giving them much more. Thanks for stopping in to comment and share!

Brett C from Asia on January 30, 2012:

You have come up with some great tips for Grandparents to help their grand-kids grow up with a sense of belonging, self respect and hopefully a talent to call their own.

Thanks for SHARING.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 22, 2012:

Nell Rose - What a wonderful thing your mum did in teaching your son to play the piano! Thanks so much for sharing your story!

Nell Rose from England on January 22, 2012:

Hi, this is wonderful, I was unlucky when I was a child as my grandmother on one side of the family was too old and ill to really notice us, I felt so sorry for her, and my dads mum never wanted to know the family at all, long story! but my mum was terrific with my son, she loved him to bits! and did everything with him, and so did his grandad too, but the one thing she taught him to do that he still uses today is his skill playing the piano as she taught him from an early age, lovely hub, cheers nell

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 21, 2012:

Moonlake - I think that kids go through stages where their other interests and friends take precedence over their grandparents. I'm sure they will always love you and remember the good times they had with you. The important thing is that you are continuing to keep in contact with them and letting them know you love them. I'm sure it will pay off! Thanks for sharing and thank you for commenting.

moonlake from America on January 21, 2012:

When our granddaughters were small they loved my husband and I. Anytime anyone wanted us to we took our grandkids, kept them overnight. They would run in the house throw their arms around us, not anymore.

I think the big problem now is there are no big malls for them to hang out in and go to when they come here, they get bored with us.

Now they could care less if they see us. I have tried talking to them on the phone but it never works. I text them and tell them I love them that is about all I can do.

I loved my grandmothers. I find this hard to understand with our grandchildren.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 21, 2012:

Kellyward - Grandparents know so much family history, it would be great if you could encourage them to talk about their lives as children or in their youth. Perhaps once they see there is an interest, they would be more forthcoming. My grandchildren actually had school projects where they asked their grandparents questions, and it opened up a nice dialog between us. Best wishes, and thank you for your comments!

kelleyward on January 21, 2012:

Great Hub! I just wish my kids grandparents were more interested in passing on our family legacy. Your children and grandchildren are truly blessed. This was great

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 20, 2012:

Movie Master - I think many of us grandmothers use our own grandmothers as role models. How wonderful that you and your nanny had many special times together. She must have set a wonderful example for you!

Movie Master from United Kingdom on January 20, 2012:

This is a wonderful hub Stephanie, I have such precious memories of my nanny, spending time with her was 'special' I learnt so much from her and now I always make an effort to make the time 'special' with my grandchildren.

Thank you and voted up.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 19, 2012:

AudreyHowitt - The special relationship between grandparents and grandchildren offers many opportunities for sharing and teaching- in addition to the many joys! Thank you for your very nice comment Audrey.

Audrey Howitt from California on January 19, 2012:

This is a wonderful hub! I am not quite there yet, but before too long, I expect that i will be--this is such a tender tribute to the relationships between people.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 19, 2012:

SanneL - I do feel very fortunate to have had much quality time with my grandchildren when they were young. In our frequent times together we did all of the things mentioned in this article. I did love reading to the little ones and especially liked sharing my love of arts and crafts with my grandchildren as they got a little bigger. We had a lot of fun times that we'll all remember. Thanks so much for stopping by to comment!

RTalloni - Thank you for your comment. I agree that grandparents can enrich the lives of their grandchildren by their example and by teaching grandchildren important life lessons. The special bonds that are forged when the grandchildren are young are likely to remain always.

RTalloni on January 19, 2012:

The theme of your hub is so important! So glad to see it posted with the 5 points to help parents and grandparents realize that together they can enrich the lives of little ones. The grandparent/grandchild relationship is indeed a very special tie that can make a huge difference in the lives of both!

SanneL from Sweden on January 19, 2012:

What a beautiful and inspiring hub!

Grandparents play such an important role to their grandchildren. They have so much to give and teach that will follow the grandchildren through life, and leave some very dear memories. I wish I have had grandparents, they would have made my life so much richer. You and your grandchildren are truly blessed!

Thank you for sharing this wonderful hub.

Voted up, shared and awesome.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 18, 2012:

Hi Denise,

I recently came across the photo of my mother holding Matthew, and thought that it fit here perfectly. I do have some wonderful memories of times with my grandchildren, but I have to admit that I have a hard time imagining them as grandparents! I know from Cara's and your hubs that you have some wonderful times with your grandchildren, too. Your "thank you" hub was a great link to add here as helping with thank you notes is one of the things that grandparents might have time to do with their grandchildren. Thanks for the link back!

Denise Handlon from Michigan on January 18, 2012:

Stephanie-what a beautiful a grandmother, I find it very touching. I LOVE the photo of your mother holding her great, grandchild. I have a photo of my father with his great, grandchildren.

I loved the photo of the peorogies. It reminds me of my youngest daughter who makes those for her family. I had to smile about that and Cara's comments and wonder what memories they will have as grandmothers...

Thanks for a great hub-voted up and across! BTW-I saw that you linked my 'thank you' hub to your hub list here-Thanks! I'll link this one to mine as well. The link is within the content in the first section under the magic word: grandchildren, LOL

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 18, 2012:

Cardelean, I too was lucky to be able share special times with my grandmother. Later in life I had, and still have, a close relationship to my own grandchildren. The closeness that grandparents share with their grandchildren gives them a unique opportunity to teach them values and skills and to pass on some of the important lessons of life.

Your hub about teaching children respect and tolerance through reading fits perfectly with the message here, and I'm linking it now.

Thank you sharing - wonderful comment!

cardelean from Michigan on January 17, 2012:

What a wonderful hub Stephanie. I treasure the memories that I have of time spent with both of my grandmothers and my maternal grandfather growing up. Each one taught me important lessons and I shared special moments with each of them.

As a parent, I love to see the time that both my mother and inlaws spend with my own children. I love to watch the unique relationship that they each have and know that they are building memories of their own. Even though my mom is not here to see my kids daily, they treasure the times that they do spend with her and look forward to the times that they skype together. Wonderful and touching hub. Your grandkids are very lucky to have you!