Recently, I had a conversation with an old friend, a grandmother, who described her involvement in her grandchildren’s home education. It prompted me to go and look on the databases for research into the home education/grandparent relationship. I was surprised to find very limited research into this field. One study (paywall), provides advice to homeschool families who are having trouble with relatives and suggests strategies to alleviate stress among grandparents (the homeschool mother’s, and it is usually mothers, parents/in-laws) over the choice.
Another paper (paywall) advocates for the role of grandparents in homeschool families. They argue that, in a networked world where most of the information taught at school can be accessed outside of it, there is an opportunity to use homeschool to connect with broader information as well as with significant family members.
Kenner, Arju, Gregory, Jessel and Ruby (2002) describe the role of grandparents in fostering a love of learning and a positive learning environment with children, however its concern is with home/school relationships, not home education. Similarly, Zimmerman-Orozco (2011) and Hiatt-Michael and Hands (2010) also suggest the important role of extended family in successful home/school interactions.
However, these studies are not advocating a role for grandparents in home education families. Where is that research? Why aren’t the home education researchers examining the role of extended family in the development of educational experiences for home educated students. I suspect that, in some cases, there is a tense relationship with family, particularly if extended family is not supportive of the decision to home educate (and the Ray study seems to bear that out). However, as anyone who’s involved in researching home education knows, Ray is an advocate of home education and thus, he’s probably seen a lot of research and interview data that finds that home education can be tricky for some families to negotiate.
Perhaps there is limited experience among the home education families of positive relationships with grandparents. The notion of positive home education family/extended family relationships is something I want to explore. Maybe I need to write a paper that discusses the positive experience of extended family involvement in home education and the important role grandparents can play in successful home education endeavours. I suspect that it might be something that would help parents who are struggling with familial differences of opinion over the choice.