“Going to school” for students attending an online school like IVLA is a very different experience from that of an older family member or friend of the family. Yet including the older generation in your student’s education can be beneficial (and fun!) for all involved. Here are a few ideas to get started.


Do you have a distant relative or family friend that would enjoy getting letters and has time to reply? Assign your student to write a letter to an elderly friend once a month. Make sure she asks one or two questions and wait for the response in the reply. A quick phone call from you to explain the assignment might be helpful.


Field Trips

If you are enriching your online learning with a field trip, consider inviting an older friend to go along with you and the kids. Going somewhere together gives you an opportunity to talk together and get to know one another better. This enables your student to become more comfortable with the older generation.


Online Connections

If your student is a blogger like mine, share her website with a trustworthy friend or two and invite them to reply on the blog posts. It’s similar to the letter writing, but the technological twist.



Our IVLA English Language Arts curriculum has many wonderful poems. Pick one for your student to memorize. If poetry isn’t their thing, find a song or a fun list of facts to memorize. Reciting these wonderful chunks of information would be fascinating to the older ones in our lives. They might even have something memorized to share, too. Host a Poetry Tea Party, or something similar, and invite an older friend to join you. While sharing snacks, you can recite your poetry, rattle off your long list of presidents or prepositions.


Craft Projects

Do you feel like you are swimming in cute paintings, drawings, clay creations? Pick a few and share them with an older friend. Older relatives seem to especially like getting cute art in the mail. You kill two birds with one stone with this one—you get to declutter your craft displays and the recipient finds joy in your child’s art. WIN! WIN!



Whether the information is informally archived or simply enjoyed during the interview, those older than us have so many experiences to share. Help your student develop a good list of questions and ask your older friend, whether a relative or not, if they would enjoy being interviewed. You and your child will learn much from the older generation. If the interview goes well, perhaps more interviews can take place in the future. Be sure your student writes a thank you note afterwards, and maybe even slips in a piece of art!


At IVLA, we hope our students grow to be contributors to the world around them. Gleaning wisdom from the older generation can be an important part of that process. Though the older generation is all around us, sometimes they are hard to see. They have so much to teach to us and our kids. Keep your eyes open for someone nearby that could enjoy some company or someone far away that would love some fun mail. Your student’s learning will be richer for the effort!