Grandparents hold important positions as educators here in Hawai‘i as an increasing number of them pitch in to provide pertinent learning for their grandchildren not necessarily taught at school. Grandparents may not hold special degrees, but plenty of on-the-job experiences make them experts in keeping the family together and on the right track.

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Thanaphon Schmidt, Grandma and Pamela Lee, passing on a joy of reading.

We talked with Pamela Lee and Sam Kim at Sylvan Learning Center, Kahala, who say they are seeing more grandparents enrolling their grandchildren in Sylvan programs to help them catch up, maintain their grades and get ahead in school.

Sylvan Learning programs offer support help to students in all areas, including reading, writing, math, homework help, study skills and test preparation. STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs have also been added to the many curriculum choices.

On national achievement tests, Hawai‘i public school students score below average in most categories, including language and STEM skills. Our state educators are trying to fix that, but in all likelihood, not before your grandchildren graduate from high school.

For 30 years, Sylvan Learning Center has provided generations of Honolulu students — all ages and grade levels — with supplemental education. This year, Sylvan is also providing free afterschool classes to about 400 children across the islands, which are administered by Boys and Girls Clubs and funded by a federal grant.

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Kiley Tanimura, Mikela Agno and Grandma — looking 
forward to learning.

“Parents are really burdened with multiple jobs while maintaining a home that may house three or four generations,” said Kim. “Grandparents who grew up in Hawai‘i got an excellent public education, so they can see when their grandchildren need help. The easiest way to help is to supplement their schooling.”

Sylvan Learning tests students to identify missing skills. If a student feels confused by math, testing will show which math skills are lacking and close the gap by helping the student master them. Filling in these gaps and catching up gives the child confidence to tackle math homework, and learning becomes fun again.

“Supporting your grandchild’s education is the best way to stay involved,” said Lee. “Students with family members supporting and encouraging them at home just do better in school overall.

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Seth Heller, Aia Heller and Grandma on the road to 
academic success.

“Grandparents bring us their mo‘opuna and we teach them exactly what they need to learn in order to succeed in school.”

Educators recommend that when the opportunity arises, seniors get involved in their grandchildren’s education.

It is a gift that will keep giving and an opportunity for you to know that you had a hand in your grandchildren’s 
future success.




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