Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Intergenerational Learning-Grade 1/2

As the resource teacher at my school, I have opportunities to be involved in a few different projects going on in the school. I cover a grade 1/2 class two block each week, and for one of these blocks, we have been visiting a local Seniors' care home to read with the residents. We walk there and back, and due to time constraints, we are there for a short period of time. It has been touching to see the connections being made between the students and the seniors.

Over the Christmas break, the Recreational Manager (I will call her "S") at the care home we visit read the same article I read in the Globe and Mail - regarding a Kindergarten class in the Kootenays which is held for two full days in a local Seniors' care home. She emailed me in excitement, saying: "Can we do this with a Kindergarten class!?!?" and I had to laugh as I emailed her back to say: "I was just thinking the same thing!"

My husband is a care aide in a Seniors' home, and what strikes me from our conversations about our respective experiences in our career roles is the similarities in our interactions with children and with the elderly. These are all unique individuals who thrive from the personal connections they make with those around them. The elderly resident who makes a connection with the person caring for them feels respected, valued, and truly cared for. The student who makes a connection with their teacher....well, they feel respected, valued, and truly cared for. This is what is most meaningful. And, as "S" said to me: "Everyone wants to volunteer with children, but it is so hard to find people who want to volunteer with seniors. Why not bring them together at the same time?"

To make a long story short, last week I accompanied a group of students and their teacher to the care home to start off what will hopefully be a regular, weekly, day-long Kindergarten class held in the Seniors' care home.

The words "Through a Different Lens" truly applies to this experience. A little snippet from the day:

We met one resident who used to be a primary teacher in Calgary. She is unable to speak except for in a very light whisper. The Kindergarten students spent a bit of time saying hello to her and just talking a bit about themselves, in the innocent way that is unique to 5 and 6 year olds. The resident was in tears as we prepared to leave and go on to the next activity. She whispered to her caregiver that interacting with the students made her day. And you should have seen the students - they were in awe and full of a million questions about this new experience. It has been one of the best days of this school year for me, as a teacher :)

Post Courtesy of Kathryn Golbeck

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