Intergenerational Opportunities in Early Childhood Settings
With the number of children in care settings increasing every year and fewer resources available1, intergenerational programs in early childhood programs have become a growing trend. Intergenerational programs can pool limited resources for the benefit of children, the community, and older adults. These programs come in different forms: older volunteers entering child care centers, preschools, and other schools to tutor and/or mentor children; children visiting older adults in nursing homes or other care facilities; older adults and children sharing space and interacting on a daily basis; and much more.
This fact sheet will highlight the benefits of intergenerational programming in early childhood; share program examples that show positive results; provide possible partners to get started; and offer resources for more in depth information.
What are the Benefits?
The benefits of intergenerational programs in early childhood settings are numerous.
- Increase understanding of the aging process
- Develop a new relationship outside family
- Exhibit better behavior in classroom and other environments
- Learn they can give to others in need • Learn soft social skills such as manners
For Older Adults:
- Demonstrate their value to society
- Have other people who care about them
- Increase emotional support, giving and receiving
- Expand social roles
- Work part-time, as volunteer or with stipend
- Combine limited resources to address a need
- Implement innovative program ideas
- Create greater volunteer opportunities
Intergenerational programs in early childhood education are compelling for those developing or designing good programs. These programs can:
- Bring individuals of different generations together for a common purpose, like education,
- Fill a need that might not otherwise be met, such as tutors in the classroom or child care workers,
- Create opportunities for interaction across generations,
- Enhance social/personal skills for children by over 5 months compared to children in non-intergenerational programs2, and
- Build organizational capacity.
Reprinted with the permission of Generations United. © 2008 Generations United.
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