In the United States 37 percent of young children are cared for by grandparents three or more times a week. According to the Census Bureau, 57 percent of caregivers are grandfathers. Sometimes grandfathers become special father figures and role models. To help all adults prepare young children for success in life see the authors' books "Learning Through the Seasons" in bookstores and museums. Google wnmufm.org for podcasts. E-books are available at Smashwords.com.
Children are so much fun if you remember how their brains operate. They have a natural very short attention span so alternate active and quiet activities, snacks and rest. They like activities to be fun, even cleaning up. They need one hour a day of outdoor exercise. While adults are having fun with grandchildren, they are also providing much needed personal attention and passing on positive patterns of behavior and attitudes.
What to do
Here is a partial list of ideas to keep in your wallet. Take walks together and collect things from nature. Then talk about them.
Take a bike, boat, wagon, car or bus ride. Look for different colored objects you see. Take some pictures together.
Do a little gardening or yard work. Give them a broom or safe rake and let them work a short time with you.
Young children like to use a small hammer to pound nails. Show them how and supervise. Use large nails and make a boat to float. Let them paint the driveway, basement, or garage floor with water in a bucket and different sizes of brushes.
Cook scrambled eggs and toast or make chocolate milk. Stirring helps build muscles. Give children dry cereal to pick up with their thumbs and fingers. They will need strong finger muscles for printing.
Take some bread and feed the birds or show children how to care for pets.
Read aloud for 15 minutes every day, several times a day. They need to fill their brains with words. Tell some stories from childhood. Pass on your culture and family traditions.
Teach children to play cards and board games. Games like War and Fish are good to start. Your conversation and focus are important.
Camp in the backyard or living room. Go fishing for pretend or for real. Roast marshmallows in the microwave and add a few chocolate chips in a pinch.
Dig out some pans and wooden spoons. Turn on the radio and practice the beat.
Visit a children's museum, library or other interesting sites. Visit a relative in a nursing home and bring a child's drawing to decorate the wall.
Books about grandfathers include: "Grandpa and Me" by Katz, "Grandfather and I" by Buckley, "Grandfather's Journey" by Say, "Knots on a Counting Rope" by Martin, "The Bee Tree" by Polacco.