Have you ever taken the time to watch the ABC TV show, “Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds”? If so, you’ll be aware of the immense benefits of this intergenerational interaction for both young and old!
In a society that often segregates age groups, the idea of pre-schoolers spending time in retirement homes might seem a little unconventional. But there are some unexpected advantages of bridging this generation gap – and it can be a win-win for all involved!
Why Should My Child Spend Time in an Old People’s Home?
One of the key benefits lies in the diverse environment it creates for pre-schoolers. Traditional daycare settings generally group children by age, limiting their exposure to different generations. By visiting retirement homes, children can interact with seniors – forging connections that transcend generational boundaries. This not only broadens their social skills but also fosters empathy and respect for the elderly.
Exposing children to different age groups can also contribute to their cognitive and emotional development. Seniors possess a wealth of life experiences and knowledge, so what a great opportunity for your pre-schooler to learn from real-life stories! The exchanges may also help promote language development, as children engage in meaningful conversations, enhancing their vocabulary and communication skills.
Plus, research from an Australian study on intergenerational playgroups found parents observed positive changes in their children from these interactions – including the development of a sense of connectedness, friendships, and compassion. (1)
What Benefits are there for the Older People?
For the elderly, transitioning to aged care can be a challenging, even an isolating experience. However, working with loved ones and seeking professional advice to develop a plan – that covers practical matters such as finances, to social activities including regular interactions with younger generations – could help.
Being around energetic, inquisitive pre-schoolers is a wonderful way for seniors to find joy and a renewed sense of purpose in their daily lives. It’s an opportunity to form bonds that can alleviate feelings of loneliness and contribute to overall well-being.
It’s backed by research too, with the benefits of these interactions to older people including reduced anxiety, increased physical activity, and fostered generativity! (2)
What Do I Need to Consider?
If we’ve now got you googling “intergenerational playgroups near me”, there are a few things worth considering. For safety reasons, careful supervision will be required for your little one’s interactions with their new senior friends. Further, you’ll need to consider individual health conditions (i.e: might be a good idea to keep those snotty noses away!)
It’s also essential to ensure that any activities are age-appropriate for both pre-schoolers and seniors.
These beautiful, shared experiences between young and old can create a sense of belonging for both age groups, breaking down stereotypes and fostering a more inclusive society. So, the next time you consider extracurricular activities for your child, think about the untapped potential that lies in the heart-warming embrace of an old people’s home!