Ageism defied with innovative preschool development programs

Ever imagined a preschool inside a nursing home? They exist – Preschools in America and Netherland have experimented with preschoolers in a nursing home environment and have found great success. Not only does the child benefit from the interaction, but the elderly patients also gain a new lifeline.

The bond created by such an unusual setting, acts as a medium to form eccentrically fond friendships and more notably, unpredicted yet worth learning lessons.


When the young learners spend time in the company of residents of nursing home, one can see firsthand the sheer beauty of life at two opposite yet related ends.


What are the benefits of mixing preschool development programs and nursing homes?

It is a well-known fact that Ageism is a social truth that is not talked about much. We live in a society where the younger generation is quite unaware of the challenges that the elderly face on a regular basis.


A while back there was a report in the newspaper about the Netherland government giving college students rent free accommodation in nursing homes in exchange of 30 hours spent in active interaction with the inmates. This set in motion a search for such type of preschool development programs with younger children.


In today’s social set up children are often deprived of the gentle and loving company of their grandparents (at times, even parents too as both parents work in many families and children are left in the company of caregivers). The life of a young leaner in today’s modern world is essentially characterized by gadgets and internet rather than play and storytelling.  These activities are extremely essential in the emotional, social and cognitive development of the child. Let us understand the effect of such an exercise in connection with preschoolers.


Emotional benefits of geriatric interaction in preschoolers:

The importance of quality and quantity time spent in playtime activity is not to be underestimated. Children need a pressure free environment to grow and blossom. There are increasing numbers of preschoolers who are crumbling under stress and anxiety. The elderly are generally more patient and easy going with children. This relieves anxiety and stress in the preschoolers. For instance, if a 3-year-old spills milk on the bed his or her parents or caregiver will definitely give him a scold, a grandparent or elderly person on the other hand would handle this situation with patience and ease thus making the child feel more secure and less lonely.


The young child forms a connection with the elderly and infirm and is more open to interactions with them. They are more tolerant towards the differently-abled. The emotional and social intelligence quotient of a child who spends a lot of time around the elderly is significantly higher than the children who have not had such interactions.


The playful preschoolers learn the true meaning of values and manners in such interactions. Also, in the best preschools or play school franchise activities like storytelling sessions are a great way to instill the correct social mores and values. The tolerance towards the different racial and religious affinities is also dramatically increased.


Such innovations that bring an element of elderly interaction with preschoolers on a daily basis are very well received by the child cognitively. Storytelling and simple games ignite the creative and cognitive abilities of the child. The imagination of the child is given wings and the benefits of an active imagination and heightened creative skills lead to all round development of the child.


Benefits reaped by the elderly:

The elderly also benefit from the interaction. It has been found that in many cases the cognitive recognition skills of the elderly are reawakened. They become more cheerful and alert. The morbidity rates are lower and loneliness is mitigated. It is definite that such initiatives are favorable for both the preschoolers and the elderly.


Implementing the experiment:

Most nursing homes already have the basic infrastructure required by preschool children. Small additions like work benches and audio visual systems can be added. Games and other preschool education aids can be stored away after school time. The nursing staff is already well versed in handling people of different ages. Teachers can be instrumental in guiding the child and elderly in sync to gain maximum benefit.


In the end:

As the elderly age, we have to find different ways to support them. While nursing care can obviously help, nothing can take the place of a child’s tender love and care. In return young minds of the little preschoolers also benefit immensely by learning from the older generation. Wrapping up, I am reminded about a Quote by Tia Walker – “To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors.”

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