Strengthening Intergenerational Friendships Through Play

As I stand off to the side in the Atrium at Princess Gardens, I can’t help but notice the many similarities of the participants in front of me.  All are smiling, laughing, asking each other questions. All hands are covered in a sticky mixture of bird seed and Peabutter.  All are working together, no one is telling them what to do, they just instinctively know … they are playing. 


Why am I so profoundly captivated by this moment?  Why will I remember this day, this moment, for the rest of my life?  I think it’s because I’ve just witnessed firsthand what it is like to bridge a perceived “intergenerational gap” in the most natural and authentic way …they are playing.


As I watch the children and residents interacting with one another, I am reminded of bringing my own children to visit their 97 year old “Nana” here at the Gardens and of all the wonderful moments we spent together.  And what do my children remember most of all of the time spent with their Nana?  The moments when … they were playing.

I wonder how many of the residents who are sitting beside the children, hand in hand, young and old together, are reminiscing about their own childhood experiences.  Or memories of raising children of their own … or grandchildren. Remembering all of the happy moments spent together, building relationships, creating memories just because … they were playing.

I consider myself fortunate to work for an organization with such strong values; one that encourages individuals to build these community relationships.  I enjoy working with people that recognize that the simple act of PLAY can mean so many things to so many people, but it is a common thread that intertwines us all.  It is truly amazing that a whole curriculum can be based on just one simple word … PLAY.

Terms such as “Emergent Curriculum” or “Reggio Inspired” may be unfamiliar and therefore confusing.  In fact they are simply words to describe a new appreciation of how we as a society value PLAY.  Early Childhood Educators have known for years that children learn best through play and more and more pediatricians, scientists and psychologists are advocating for more PLAY.  By focusing on experiential hands-on learning in every day playful moments, we are giving our children opportunities to continue to demonstrate their independence and competencies.IMG_3545

Someone laughs and brings me back to the moment.  The children are holding up their “bird feeders” that they have made with the residents.  I can’t wait until we visit again next month.  Watch as the residents wait patiently for the children to arrive … for a new adventure to begin … for everyone to begin to PLAY.

To see more pictures from our visits to Princess Gardens, please visit our Facebook Page.

At Compass Early Learning & Care, we see children of all ages as contributing citizens of today. By participating in these types of experiences, children come to understand how they can make significant contributions to the lives of others.

Submitted by Lisa Miles RECE, Home Child Care Recruiter, Compass Early Learning and Care

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