I’m a firm believer that we grandparents need to be thinking a step ahead of our grandchildren to help them be their best.

What does it mean to think a step ahead? Three things are part of this:

First, we need to be aware of some general things about kids as they grow up, so we can anticipate what’s ahead for them. For some, this will come natural from our years as parents. That knowledge about what kids typically go through as three-year-olds, grade-schoolers and teenagers—and the various challenges along the way—is very valuable as we seek to encourage them, challenge them, and just relate to them.

Also, we can discover new insights from other grandparents and seek out sources of information. We can learn from other grandparents and share our joys and struggles. Anything you are working through has probably been faced by another grandparent nearby, and talking with him or her will give you a head start.

Similar insights can also come from books, blogs, research studies, and so on. As committed grandparents, we should be hungry to discover new ways to understand and bond with our grandkids, and there’s a growing number of reliable resources out there just for us. I hope you consider Grandkids Matter to be one of those for your grandparenting journey.

Probably the best idea is to notice what’s unique about each grandchild and then initiate things that will help them grow and learn. All children are wonderfully made, no matter what their gifts and limitations might be. As grandparents, we can help our grandchildren discover and use that wonderfulness.

How is he gifted?
What natural talent and abilities does she possess?
Can these gifts be expressed in spite of her challenges?
How can I adjust the environment to help her express her talents and abilities?

These are the kinds of questions we should be asking as engaged grandparents. And any insights we gain will be even better when they lead to some shared activity or connection point between us and our grandkids.

The better we understand each grandchild, the more we can try to anticipate what’s ahead for them and be ready to love and encourage them each step of the way.