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Lifelong Learning for Grandparents

You're Never Too Old to Go Back to School

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School is cool, no matter your age. That's the idea behind lifelong learning for grandparents. Besides increasing brain fitness and adding enjoyment to life, lifelong learning can make you a better grandparent by offering new ways to connect with your grandchildren. Here, ten things to learn that will benefit you as a person and as a grandparent.

1. Memoir Writing

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Everyone has a story, it's been said, and if you have the urge to tell yours, a course in memoir writing may be right for you. The wonderful thing about writing your life story is that you are creating something for your kids, grandkids and great-grandkids. You don't have to actually write a book, although publishing on demand has made that feasible for almost everyone. Memoirs can be published on a family website or printed out and bound in an inexpensive folder. Several companies specialize in memoirs and family histories, so if you need help, it is at hand.

2. Computer Skills

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If you really want to stay up with your grandchildren, choose a class in computer skills. The possibilities are practically endless. Perhaps you need an introduction to the Internet, or perhaps you are ready to tackle web design, learn about graphics software or give desktop publishing a whirl. You may even be able to learn about social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Think how that will impress your teenaged grandchildren! And if you need help with homework, chances are that you can get help from your grands.

3. Genealogy

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Tracing your family roots through genealogy is one of the fastest-growing areas of interest in the field of lifelong learning. It's also an area where having some expert advice and guidance can make a world of difference. Your family members may or may not be interested in their roots at the moment, but someone somewhere down the line will appreciate the results of your research. Genealogy is especially good for seniors as it offers numerous opportunities for connecting with others, both family members and other genealogy enthusiasts.

4. Foreign Language

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If you have grandchildren who speak another language or grandchildren who are studying foreign language, why not become bilingual or multilingual yourself? Conversing with your grandchildren will be great practice for both of you. French, Spanish and Italian are probably the most popular for study by Westerners, but the globe's the limit! Another reason for studying foreign language is to prepare for travel in another country, perhaps with your grandchildren in tow.

5. Fitness Activities

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Even if you are a little slower than you used to be, there is a fitness activity that is right for you. Consider yoga, Pilates, water fitness or swimming, tai chi or walking. Also, weight training is excellent for grandparents, although you may want to use lighter weights and more repetitions. Classes are a great way to improve fitness. Often classes include the history and traditions of the discipline, and typically there is a strong emphasis on taking proper precautions and using good form. Read these six tips to maximize your fun and your benefits when you exercise.

6. Artistic Endeavors

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If you have an artistic side that's had to take a back seat to more pragmatic endeavors, there's no time like the present to explore it. It shouldn't be hard to find a class in drawing, painting, pottery or woodworking. You'll not only gain a new skill but possibly make something for your grandchildren to treasure. If you love art but don't have the creative urge, classes in art history will increase your understanding and make you an awesome docent on museum visits with your grandchildren.

7. Culinary Classes

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Get out of your gastronomic rut by taking a class in culinary arts. Some classes focus on ethnic foods, others on a particular cooking technique or type of food. Still others teach low-fat, low-carb or low-calorie cookery. Besides learning new cooking techniques, you'll also get tips on shopping and storing food. It'll be fun to make some new dishes for your grandchildren and perhaps show off your ability to julienne, decoct or fricassee. Even peanut-butter-and-jelly purists may be tempted to try something new after you dazzle them with your kitchen witchery.

8. Investing and Finance

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As individuals grow older, it becomes more and more crucial to know how to handle money. For one thing, your earning power may be at its highest, and you may have more money to handle. Even if that is not true for you, it is certainly true that your time left to work is growing shorter. It's time that your money worked as hard as you do. If the stock market is a mystery, you could benefit from a class in investing for beginners. If you want to give gifts of money or stock to your family members, or perhaps contribute to the education of your grandchildren, you'll be able to make smarter decisions after taking a class in personal finance for seniors.

9. Photography

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Classes in photography are perennially popular. Some classes will utilize film and may even offer instruction in darkroom techniques. Some classes will focus on digital photography, offering instruction in downloading, printing and storing your digital images. Teaching participants how to use photo editing softmare may also be in the curriculum. If you have grandchildren, you have an extra incentive to improve your photography skills. Start by checking out these hints for learning to think like a photographer.

10. Gardening and Landscaping

Photo © Susan Adcox
If you're a fan of HGTV, isn't it time that you tried gardening or landscaping instead of just watching others do it? Why not try container gardening or beautify your pool or patio. Taking a class that is offered locally will allow you to make better decisions for your particular location. There's something about being outdoors and growing things that is just good for the soul. Gardening is also a skill that you can share with your grandchildren. What child doesn't like digging in the dirt and witnessing the miracle of a sprouting seed? The child in you will enjoy it, too.

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