Inter-generational play has many benefits for the very old and very young.
It was an inter-generational play date when Parents as Teachers participants brought their birth to 3-year-old children to spend some time with the residents of Parkwood Village, 401 Rochester, Pratt.
Parkwood Village provides an exercise class for their residents every Wednesday. Misty Piester, Parents as Teachers coordinator, thought a play date would benefit both groups and gave Parkwood a call.
Parkwood Village director Sharon Will quickly agreed and a play date was set.
With some help from parents, the children joined in the exercises then enjoyed listening to a story. They ended the session with some sensory games where children and residents got to play with rice, letters, marshmallows, rubber ducks, boats, beans, scoops, little cups, noodles, jungle animals, rocks and toy trucks, Piester said.
The toys help the little ones with growth development, processing things that are not electronic.
“It’s beneficial for their development,” Piester said.
Both groups enjoyed the activity and Piester said it was interesting to see how the two groups related. It was a good activity for all involved.
“I think the littles had fun,” Piester said. “The parents of the kids thought it was amazing and was good for their kiddos. I think all the residents enjoyed it. It added a new and exciting component to their day.”
The activity went over so well, a play date for the two groups is now set for the first Wednesday of each month. There’s a lot the Parkwood residents can teach the PAT children and the play date is a pathway for teachable moments.
Piester said they will try to come up with other activities. When the weather warms up, they may go outside and do some chalk drawings.
Will said Parkwood residents loved it when the children came to visit. The inter-generational contact is important and the residents like the interaction, Will said.
She said there are reports which show that health and mental status improves when people interact with other people. Other school groups also come to Parkwood and perform, especially during the holidays. The variety is nice, Will said.
“The residents always love it when there are kids in the building,” Will said.
Life Enrichment assistants lead Parkwood residents in exercise activities every day. There are also other activities including pray groups, arts and crafts, bingo, playing cards, singing hymns, baking and more.
“There’s always something going on for everyone,” Will said.
Will has seen amazing changes in personalities when someone moves in who has been living alone and has become isolated in their home. Their physical and mental health improves and they become more like the person they were before they became isolated. They gain new life from making friends and being active. Even if they only come out of their rooms three times a day for meals, it helps just being around people, Will said.
Parents as Teachers was founded by both school districts in Pratt and is funded by an Early Childhood Learning Grant through the Kansas Department of Education. The mission of Parents as Teachers is to make sure children are hitting all their developmental milestones before going to preschool. Piester does home visits to check on development.