Since retiring twelve years ago, I have connected with some of our grandchildren by returning to my original career – teaching . Mr. Shillingstad has become “Mr. Granddad”.
Our four children are all married and living in four different states: a son in Wisconsin, and daughters in Ohio, Idaho, and Arizona. Our 25 grandchildren are expanding the spread: Virginia, Michigan, Washington, and Montana – and spreading further looks likely. Despite living far away from most of my grandkids, I found a way of staying close to them and having a positive impact on their lives.
Most of our twenty-four grandchildren were home schooled. It was a natural transition for me to teach them history, government, and economics via iChat and then Skype on a regular schedule.
The junior high aged children’s itinerary included lessons, assignments, and discussions. I also added Bible lessons and prayer. Because so many were the same age, I connected our grandchildren with their cousins “in class”. I used the history and economics books from Bob Jones University Press, which were very well done, interesting, and came from a strong Christian perspective.
By the time each child was sixteen, our sessions either ended or decreased because nearly all of them began taking online or junior college classes before moving on with their education.
My grandkids were now ready for the next step. Not only did they have a well-rounded secular education, but they also had a solid foundation in Christian values and thinking. The time we had prior to college was doubly important when you consider that many colleges have become unsupportive of Christianity and can be hostile environments. Our grandchildren needed to be well-equipped in their faith to stand up to such attacks. Fortunately, so far, our grandchildren have proven strong in their beliefs. Eleven of them will have made it through college by next spring.
Teaching is about preparing children for adulthood. My education background enabled me to do a lot for my grandchildren to aid in that preparation. Learning to use modern technology made me an effective long distance teacher: “Mr. Granddad”.
Bob and Jane Shillingstad live in Hayden, Idaho and have 24 grandchildren.
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