Education Crosses Generations for Children and Seniors

Loneliness, helplessness, and boredom are qualities that accompany the aging. Lack of mobility, fewer options and a decrease in social activity can lead to unhappiness amongst seniors. Intergenerational learning is a concept that is combating senior isolation when school children are matched with older adults in a retirement residential setting - assisted living - continuing care - for educational purposes.

The generational span is mutually beneficial. Seniors have the wisdom and experience and children possess the vivacity and innocence. It's a wonderful match-up for both sides.

In a Tulsa suburb, a unique program has been initiated. At the Grace Living Center (GLC), two classrooms of about 60 kindergarten and prekindergarten students, meet 170 elders. The children attend the center in place of the first two school grades at another school. The goal of the GLC is to reduce loneliness, helplessness, and boredom in aging populations. Shan Glandon, director of curriculum and instruction, told edutopia that GLC wants "to make learning as engaging and purposeful as we can."

Dramatic play is an important component in the GLC program.  Residents engage with prekindergarten students in performing a scene connected to a unit of study. Props and costumes are used with the teacher acting as the director. Then the children and residents improvise. "This is all in the service of language development, interacting with vocabulary," principal Suzanne Lair told the media source.

An enriched social and emotional learning results from the environment.