Inside: Grandparenting roles are an important part of grandparenting. Here are 7 ways to be an influential grandparent and fun & engaging activities to make it happen.
Grandparents are important in a grandchild’s life. Why? Because they fill numerous grandparenting roles such as:
Grandparents nurture their grandchildren by loving them unconditionally, showing gentleness, kindness, and seeking to understand and accept them.
Some of the most fun playmates a grandchild can have are his/her grandparents. They are willing to act silly, play on their level, build blocks together, run through the sand, swing at the park, go to movies, stay up late, and eat fun foods.
Sometimes it’s a grandparent that answers a grandchild’s difficult questions about God and the purpose of life.
With their years of experience, grandparents can guide, direct, and help their grandchildren as they seek to navigate the challenges of life and find answers to difficult questions.
It’s important to be a good example to your grandchildren by showing through your actions values of right and wrong; honesty and integrity. Grandchildren oftentimes imitate their grandparents.
Many grandparents are babysitters to their grandchildren and care for them when a parent is busy or at work. Studies show that grandparents are the best caregivers for their grandchildren when a parent is absent.
Grandparents can be a teacher to their grandchildren. Even though parents are a child’s first teacher, grandparents are a close second because they come to the role with a vast amount of knowledge and experience that the grandchild can learn and benefit from.
Fulfilling Grandparenting Roles with Fun Activities
These blogs are designed to help you fulfill many grandparenting roles using fun, exciting, and creative activities. They give you an opportunity to be a teacher, nurturer, playmate, mentor, role model, spiritual advisor, caregiver, and more to your grandchildren.
This week, the theme is “All About Me.” Grandparents can help grandchildren understand and appreciate who they are and what makes them unique. How is this done? Through reading, music, art, cooking, baking, problem-solving, and more.
#1 Art: Lifesize Drawings of ME! (Playmate)
Be a playmate with your grandchildren. Trace them onto paper and have them decorate their drawing with things that say, “this is me!”
- Purchase brown utility paper—it needs to be wide—at least 4 feet.
- Have your grandchild lay down on the paper—on their backs
- Trace around their entire body—don’t forget their necks!
- Go over with a sharpie pen.
- Take a picture of their face; enlarge it to 8.5 x 11; print it out; cut it out and paste where their face is on the utility paper.
- Have them “decorate” themselves and include their talents, interests, friends, what they want to be when they grow up, and favorite foods.
- Give younger children crayons, pens, paper, stickers, glitter, ribbons, and popsicle sticks to decorate with.
#2 Art: The Masks We Wear (Nurturer)
It seems that one of the “rights of passage” in a child’s life is to make the proverbial brown paper mask. I made one, you made one and now your grandkids can make one. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Brown paper bags—most grocery store bags have writing on them so purchase brown paper bags at the Dollar Store or use other colorful bags
- Scraps of paper—different colors
- Popsicle sticks
- Pom poms
- Paint, crayons, pens
Making brown paper bag masks allows you to be crazy, creative, and a fun nurturer to your grandkids
Explain to older grandchildren what it means when people say, “the masks we wear.” It can mean different roles we have or about appearances and worrying about what people think of us. Help your grandchildren to realize that every day they are evolving into fascinating people so “masks” should be put away and who they really are be allowed to shine through.
Give your grandkids this nurturing advice—be true to yourself as you become the person you’re meant to be.
#3 Art: The Importance of a Name & Making Letters (Role Model)
Children love hearing their name—it’s music to their ears. Be a role model and help your grandchildren understand what it means to “live up to your name.” It’s about integrity, being honest, and kind to others. Is there a story behind your name? Share it with your grandchildren. It’s how legacies are passed down.
A great activity for developing small muscle coordination is to let your grandchildren create the first letter of their name with yarn and other decorations. Using cardboard and an Exacto knife, cut a large first letter of each child’s names.
Materials Needed and Directions:
- Different colors of yarn
- Masking tape
- Other items to decorate their letter such as feathers, pom-poms, stickers, glitter, etc.
- Each grandchild picks out different colors of yarn
- Tape a piece of yarn to the backside of the letter.
- Wind the yarn around and around the letter. When they change to another color yarn, simply cut the yarn, tape it to the back of the letter, and start another color.
For very young children (2-years old) take their hand and guide them around the letter with the yarn. They can also help by pulling the yarn off the ball. Our toddlers took the yarn and ran around the room with it. It created a spider-web mess—but they loved it! I read about making these yarn letters in Cardboard Creations by Barbara Rucci.
#4 Grandkids & Sensory Solving Problems: Sidewalk Chalk (Teacher)
This activity has layers of learning where the grandparenting role is…teacher. All the senses are explored, energy is expended, problems solved and creativity enhanced. It’s sidewalk chalk at its best! I saw examples of this on Facebook but with a few changes made it unique for my grandkids.
- First, using pattern blocks, have your grandchildren create a geometric design on a piece of paper
- Using masking tape outline the design making it about 3’x5’—on a cement surface or fence
- Color in each shape using sidewalk chalk
- When done—lift off the masking tape and voilà—an amazing design!
Make it a problem-solving experience by teaching your grandkids the names of the various shapes that make-up their design:
- And all the usual ones—triangles, rectangles, squares, etc.
#5 Grandkids in the Kitchen: Making Funny Faces (Mentor)
As mentioned before in other blogs—kids love to cook and bake in the kitchen. To go with the theme of “All About Me” create “funny food faces.” They will learn how different foods can create different “facial features.”
- Rice cakes, tortillas, or bread
- Peanut butter and/or Nutella
- Fruits: blueberries, strawberries, petit oranges, grapes
- Veggies: sliced peppers, shredded carrots, sliced mushrooms, cubed cucumbers & broccoli
- Shredded cheese
- Have the grandkids pick out the base of their faces—rice cakes, tortilla, bread
- Spread on either peanut butter or Nutella
- Add the fruits and veggies to make up the facial features, hair, etc.
This is a good time to “mentor” your grandkids and share with them the importance of eating their fruits and veggies. Click here for an informative blog on the subject.
#6 Grandkids & Music (Caregiver)
Children love music! Here are links to our favorite music activities that fit in with the “All About Me” theme.
As a caretaker, help your grandkids discover their uniqueness using music. Turn on the music below and march, dance, and sing to the beat. Music and movement are important ways to exercise our sensory systems.
- This is How I Do It: Laurie Berkner
- This Little Light of Mine: Bruce Springsteen (a fun jazzy version)
- This Little Light of Mine: Wesley’s Wuppets
- I am Special with Grover
#7 Books & DVDs (Spiritual Advisor)
There are wonderful books to read to your grandchildren that are “All About Me.”
Learning about oneself becomes a journey in spiritual awareness. And grandparents can help.
They can offer advice and direction as their grandchildren navigate through the minefields of life. Friendships, school, career paths, getting along with parents, and the concept of a Higher Being become topics of interest to grandchildren.
Grandchildren need someone with common sense and integrity to help them grow up to be productive caring adults. And that “someone” can be you—the grandparent.
Certain subjects can be tough, but don’t shy away from tough topics—attack them head-on. If you don’t give your grandkids answers—someone else will and you may not like what they hear and learn from other people.
For example, some parents and grandparents find the topic of a Higher Being uncomfortable. However, your grandchildren deserve to know how you feel about God. Do you believe in a Higher Being? If so, tell them why. If you don’t, tell them why.
Either way—share with them the stories from the Bible—if you believe in God—they are amazing stories of courage, faith, and overcoming. If you don’t believe in God—the stories are still amazing and can be taught from a cultural perspective or spiritual awareness.
Here are some books and DVD suggestions that celebrate, “All About Me”
- What I Like About Me! A Book Celebrating Differences by Allia Zobel Nolan
- When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner
- Marvelous Me: Inside and Out by Lisa Marie Bullard
- Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods that Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis
- I’m Gonna Like Me by Jamie Lee Curtis
- 16 New and Old Testament Bible Stories for the Whole Family DVD
As a grandparent, what roles are important to you when interacting with your grandchildren? Nurturer? Teacher? Spiritual Advisor? Mentor, etc.? Please share in the comment section below.
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What are the roles of grandparents?
Grandparents play many different roles in the lives of their grandchildren such as mentor, playmate, spiritual advisor, role model, nurturer, caregiver, and teacher.
Each of these roles plays an important part in the lives of grandchildren. Because they have “been there, done that,” grandparents come to the role with a built-in set of skills. They take their past experiences (all the good, the bad, and the ugly) and bring their best advice, help, and expertise when interfacing with their grandchildren.
The American Grandparent Association (AGA) found that 63% of grandparents say they do a better job caring for their grandchildren than they did with their own children.
What grandparents should not do
Grandparents should not interfere with the parents’ mode of parenting. As long as the parent is not abusing the child in any way, it’s important for the parents to be parents and take the major responsibility in raising their children.
Grandparents can be a support and play other roles in the child’s life such as mentor, playmate, role model, caregiver, and nurturer.
Grandparents should not talk disparagingly about the parents and they should not spoil the grandchild by just giving them “things.” Time is what grandkids want—not just more stuff.
Why are grandmothers important?
Oftentimes grandmothers can act as caregivers to her grandchildren—especially when both parents work. She can nurture and care for her grandchildren and be there when parents are not.
Grandmothers can also help parents by being a positive role model and encouraging grandchildren to do their best in school and they can praise and encourage them to develop talents and have high goals.
If parents are uncomfortable about answering questions about God, grandmothers can fill the role of spiritual advisor and give advice and help to her grandchildren when they ask.