By Beth Pinyerd
What a wonderful time of the year for our young children and our elderly population to share Christmas joy with each other! The National Council on Aging defines intergenerational programs as activities that increase cooperation and exchange between two generations. “It has been shown that a relationship between young and old enlightens both generations.”
As I have been blessed to serve both the young and old, intergenerational relationships are something that goes beyond anything that money can buy. What is exchanged mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally is so rich in benefits for the young and elderly.
During the holidays, families coming together at home provide wonderful opportunities for young children and seniors to come together to enjoy simple holiday fun. In our community, retirement villages always look forward to young visitors. Many of our local schools of children plan field trips to visit and provide programs of song and cheer for the elderly. Local church children’s ministries also encourage our Senior citizens in songs and cheer. Retirement Village directors and activity coordinators in knowing and planning ahead activities for their Senior residents welcome intergenerational activities.
In planning ahead for young and old during the holidays, keep things simple. Quiet activities such as looking at family pictures, reflecting on the present and the past, reading Christmas books and poems, watching holiday movies and television programs, engaging in simple crafts, simple baking, painting, and coloring provide educational opportunities for the younger and older generation to learn from each other.
Providing simple Jigsaw puzzles, card games, board games, word searches, crossword puzzles, word searches, etc. offer objectives in cognitive development, social interaction, as well as team work and cooperation. Providing games and puzzles which is on the appropriate level for your children and elderly provide enjoyable activities to work on keeping minds active.
As a teacher, I love to observe children and our seniors engaging in arts and crafts as a creative outlet. Working together on a joint project provides wonderful opportunities to be creative.
Children and the elderly doing light exercises and movement such as joining hand in hand and taking a walk, enjoying light outside fun in observing nature and movement, simple finger plays that our elderly can teach the younger, and just light exercises in waving hands, marching in place, dancing, swinging, and pretend play is something they can do together.
Young children provide such a spark of energy and enthusiasm to we older adults. Children are truly blind to age differences.
I hope this article gives our community families time to plan out enjoyable activities for the whole family. The time families spend together spells love!