Homeschool help: retired teacher helps grandkids learn during the pandemic

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 2:47 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - They say it takes a village to raise a child.

That’s something one Bismarck family has learned first-hand this school year.

Moments like these, are the highlight of the week for the Andrist kids, their mom Bethany, and her mom, Mary Beth Orn.

“My grandkids give me joy and purpose,” said Orn.

This year, they’ve given her even more purpose. Every Friday, Orn drives from her farm near Wimbledon to her daughter’s Bismarck home to teach her grandkids North Dakota history.

“We look forward to Fridays. We love having Grandma come,” said Bethany.

“I love it when Grandma comes to help out with homeschool,” added Teddy Andrist, age 9.

For the first time ever, Bethany is homeschooling her three children.

“We have immune-compromised family members so face to face learning just wasn’t on the table for us,” she explained. “I never really thought of myself as a homeschool mom.”

And while the idea of teaching her children was scary, knowing she could lean on her mom, made the decision a little easier.

“She is a natural educator,” Bethany said about her mom.

Orn has spent most of her life teaching. She taught kindergarten, first grade and even opened a preschool in her basement when her own children were young.

“I’ve kind of kept my foot in it all along the way,” Orn said.

Her example has helped Bethany through the homeschool challenges.

“Not every day is not a walk in the park,” she confessed.

But it’s given her new perspective.

“When we’re opening our history books and I can smell their little heads and give them a kiss. I feel like this has been such a cool blessing,” Bethany said.

A silver lining in the midst of a pandemic: more time with her kids and her mom and memories they’ll all treasure even after the pandemic is over.

Orn has only missed two Fridays this whole school year – once because of weather and once because of a quarantine. On those days, she Face Timed the kids and taught North Dakota studies virtually.

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