"Grandparents, like heroes, are as necessary to a child's growth as vitamins." -- Joyce Allston.
Not every child has a grandparent...and not every older person has a grandchild...but our Lifelong Learning Centres are bridging the gap. On National Grandparent's Day we're sharing some of the heartwarming experiences experienced by the children and older citizens of our local communities.
This year, many of our Lifelong Learning Centres have participated in regular visits to aged care and nursing homes around Australia.
The programs offer children from babies through to kindergarten and pre-school age, an excursion event,
usually held fortnightly or monthly, enabling them to benefit from enriching quality time spent with older people.
"The curiosity and natural affection between both the older ones and our children sometimes brings a tear to my eyes," says Centre Manager Sherrie Riding, who hosts fortnightly excursions for her pre-kindy and kindergarten children attending TLC Sherwood
in Queensland, to the local Bethsada Nursing Home.
"This is the age when children can develop true empathy and respect for older citizens, and I feel privileged to enable these moments between the generations," she said.
Yolandi Chandler, Centre Manager at Milestones Early Learning Quinns Rocks, regularly hosts excursions with children to the local aged care home.
"We share stories, music, a meal and conversations with our wonderful elderly friends - the children absolutely love these excursions and we are able to continue with the themes and lessons they learn during the visits, extending on what they have learned for many days after each visit," Yolandi said.
At Milestones Early Learning Lynwood in Perth, Western Australia, Centre Manager Janelle Ainsworth believes visits to aged care communities are a vital addition to children's early learning experiences.
"National Quality Area 5 relates to collaborating with other organisations and service providers to enhance children's learning and wellbeing, and the wonderful thing about incorporating these visits into our program is that we are also enhancing the learning and wellbeing of older people who live in our community," Janelle said.
"This aligns to our 'Healthy Communities' theme, which all Lifelong Learning Centres adapt and expand to suit their children's and family interests, and their local communities," she said.
The children and educators at Daisy's Child Care in Cooma, New South Wales, have enjoyed many special moments with the residents of their local nursing home.
"It's always a highlight of our week, and the children's, when we visit. Our parents are also very happy to see their children feeling comfortable speaking to and interacting with older ones in our community," Centre Manager Liz Dawes said.
But perhaps the best testimony for the value of connecting our little lifelong learners with older people in our communities is the one shared by four-year old Phoebe, who attends TLC Sherwood.
"They need to play with us," she said. And we agree.