Mary Anne Bryant with Emaline Mackey and Myriah Elrod.
As the season of spring bursts forth with green “peek-a-boos,” I think of the special relationships young children have with grandparents and senior adults. We might be a biological grandparent, a foster grandparent to a child, a surrogate grandparent, or a person in the community who reaches out to children as a grandparent would.
Under the direction of Jolene Clark, the Opelika First Class Pre-K Academy provided a wonderful fellowship event, “Grits for Grandparents,” on Friday, March 17. I was invited to be a surrogate grandmother to one of my precious little girls whom I have taught in Sunday School at Pepperell Baptist Church. The young children came and met us in the library before leading us to their classroom. This Classroom Observer noticed the wide smiles as grandchildren and grandparents hugged. My “grandchild” showed me the art, home living, counting, reading and listening stations, as well as the sand table, math center, language experience stories and more. She was so proud to show this grandmother her classroom and what she did each day! All the grandparents truly enjoyed eating a delicious bowl of grits served by cafeteria staff, teachers and assistants. All of us grandparents with our grandchildren were made to feel so special at this wonderful outreach function.
To serve in the grandparent role in any capacity is such a blessing. Our world and the demand to make a living, raise a family and to carry on with all our daily responsibilities can be overwhelming. This is where grandparents can help so much in spending time with their grandchildren and giving them a sense of security. Young children feel such true love from their grandparents. This relationship emerges into a friendship. Children feel more confident and secure when grandparents spend time with them.
When I am in the classroom, I love to see children’s eyes light up when grandparents arrive to pick them up. When distance in miles separates grandchildren from grandparents, or if grandparents have passed away, there are older people in our community or churches who might just love to help a young family in this way, but these families need to ask for this help. I asked my neighbors to help me with my own son, and they did this until Gus graduated from high school. They attended school programs and special award programs, and more than anything, they gifted him with their time and love.
With our modern social technology, young children can FaceTime with their grandparents. They can also share in fun activities together over FaceTime.
Children can prepare and mail special surprise packages to their grandparents of pictures they have colored, crafts they have completed and photos of daily activities they have done at school or at home. These gifts are given to grandparents from the hearts and hands of children. This demonstration of love and care can touch the hearts of grandparents, who love to be included in the lives of their grandchildren.
Grandparents can share so much history and wisdom with a grandchild. Because of life’s experiences — its ups and downs — grandparents can provide a strong foundation. Time spent with grandchildren spells LOVE! Grandparents: It is so important to let young children know just how special they are to us.
There are many activities you can do together, such as reading a favorite book, drawing pictures, putting a puzzle together, playing “pretend” or developing hobbies such as building model cars or planes. As a teacher, I have invited grandparents to help with field trips, class parties, reading books to the class or engaging in special holiday crafts with their grandchildren.
In springtime, we love to be outside with our children. This season provides so many opportunities for intergenerational projects; fo example, planting flowers and tending to gardens provide hours of educational fun for both children and grandparents.
Taking nature walks together to observe different trees, insects and animals, identify different plants or simply listen to different birds chirping and singing make for wonderful intergenerational activities. The parks in our county and community provide wonderful places for picnics with grandchildren and grandparents. Also, much fun can be experienced on the playgrounds during these beautiful spring days!
Another wonderful, intergenerational project is for grandparents and grandchildren to participate in spring weather-watching. You can look up at the beautiful blue skies, identifying different types of clouds — such as cirrus, cumulus, stratus or nimbus — listen to the wind and rain, or simply enjoy the beautiful spring sunshine on a clear day.
Our local libraries are set up for wonderful intergenerational time as well. The children’s rooms are a wonderful place to share good books.
I hope these few suggestions enrich grandparents’ time with their grandchildren! The wonderful truth about being a grandparent is that we truly love our role! Grandchildren can bring pure happiness and joy into our lives.