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Intergenerational Activities for the Elderly & Children

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Older adults have much they can teach children. They have a wealth of life experience and skills, plus older adults might be retired with more free time than younger adults. Your child might be lucky enough to spend time with a grandparent, older caregiver, neighbor or member of your church who has earned her trust and yours. Earned trust can open the door for many enjoyable intergenerational activities.

Field Trips

There are many locations an older adult and a child could explore. This is easier if the older adult is active, but not impossible if the adult is mobility challenged and uses a wheel chair or walker. A trip to the supermarket could teach your child about comparison shopping, how to pick ripe produce and what ingredients are necessary for favorite meals. If your child is preschool aged or older, he can assist with selecting and placing items in the basket and loading them in and out of the car. They could go to the park and let your child run or play a sport while the adult cheers. Other interesting options include trips to a children’s museum, library or children’s theater.

Crafts

The elderly adult could have skills with various crafts such as crocheting, knitting, quilting, woodworking or painting. The adult can teach your child how to do those crafts, and they might work on some projects together. With young children, the crafts could be simple projects, such as painting or making paper chains, puppets or frames for pictures of your child. Older children could make a quilt, birdhouse or clay sculptures.

Stories

Older adults have a wealth of stories they can tell, including stories about their childhood and history of the country. If the older adult is a relative, your child could hear stories about your life and family. The adult could read stories to a young child or help to write stories to create personalized stories for your child. The adult could also help your child dramatize stories, from the familiar folk tales and nursery rhymes for young children to more complex stories with older children.

Education

Your child could learn academics from an older adult. The older adult could tutor your child in reading, math or other subjects to help your child perform better in school. An older adult with musical talent could teach your child to play an instrument or sing. Educational opportunities your school-aged child could learn from an older adult include cooking, sewing and gardening. An older child could learn how to work on a car or perform home repairs. Your computer literate child could teach an older adult how to use the computer, send email or use various software programs.

References

  • Outings & Adventures with Children Ages 1-6 & Beyond; Lynda Morley
  • Grandparenting Today; Reader’s Digest

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images