Little kids and old people -- they're a winning combination. They can do so much for each other. Retirees may have the time and patience to read to, listen to, and play with children, to teach them about life, in ways that younger adults like, say, the kids' parents -- so busy rushing around taking care of the concerns of workaday life -- do not. And kids can boost retirees' spirit with a smile and a snuggle.
Unfortunately, so many families, like mine, live hours away from grandparents, depriving both generations -- the elders and the youngsters -- of this quality time spend in each other's company. A few communities have come up with a genius solution to this problem: kindergartens in retirement homes.
One retirement home in British Columbia, Canada, recently covered in the Globe and Mail shows the beneficial effects of such programs. Twice a week -- on Tuesdays and Fridays -- a yellow school bus from a nearby primary school brings 18 kindergartners into the home's common room. There, the children spend the day doing crafts, reading books, practicing their letters, stacking blocks, and learning with the active help and support of the home's residents.
"You wouldn't think the children would want to spend the time with us, but they do," an 84-year-old resident named Kay Maras, who never had kids of her own, told the Globe and Mail's reporter.
Of course they do! Kids -- at least my own kids -- tend to embrace seniors without question. It's only as we get older that we begin to fear old age. Programs like this are good for building self-esteem and respect across the generations. It turns out there are other benefits too: According to the Globe and Mail, programs like these tend to boost kids' reading scores. At the same time, the seniors' medication rates generally decline. It's a total win-win.
And even more than that, it's just lovely. I would totally send my kids to a kindergarten in a retirement home.
Image via Enokson/Flickr