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Archive for the ‘Grandparents’ Category

How Small Children Can Make a Big Difference

children's hands playing piano

By Jennifer Jipson, Ph.D.

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

In my last blog, I wrote about ways to help children cultivate an attitude of gratitudeDr. Jennifer Teramoto Pedrotti, a colleague who studies positive psychology, recently told me that people who are more grateful also tend to be more optimistic, be more hopeful, have higher life satisfaction and be more empathetic. I hope that you’ve been trying some of the ideas that I shared! As it turns out, focusing on the good in our lives is only one way to reap these positive social-emotional benefits. Another way is to give to others in ways that support them without expecting anything in return. Today, I’ll share some ideas for how to get children of all ages involved in giving back to help their communities. 

Intergenerational Caring and Sharing  Now that families are traveling to see each other less often, seniors may be feeling especially lonely and disconnectedMake it a family goal to add cheer to the year for neighbors who may be struggling. Sara Bartlett is a licensed clinical social worker who focuses on the benefits of intergenerational relationships for mental health and well-beingShe has shared some ideas for how families with young children can bring joyful moments to seniors who must socially isolate during this time 

  • Letters and Drawings  Encourage children to write letters or draw pictures, and mail them to local nursing homes or drop them off in older neighbors’ mailboxesYou may even spark a penpal relationship and receive letters back;  
  • Performances – Invite your children to play musical instruments, dance or perform a short skit from the driveway or porch for an older adult who watches nearby; 
  • Shared Storytelling  Ask children to practice their storytelling skills by sharing a story with an older adult over Zoom or FaceTime or, perhaps, invite the older adult to read with the child;  
  • Surprise Packages  Involve children in creating care packages with puzzle books, catalogs, jigsaw puzzles, art supplies or other items to be placed safely on someone’s stoop or delivered to elder care facilities. 

Caring for Others in Outdoor Places and Spaces – An abundance of research links developmental benefits to connections with nature. Although the pandemic limits visits to indoor spaces, families can still safely engage in outdoor activities, and they can do so in ways that help others in their communities.  

  • Community Clean Up – Cleaning up litter in your neighborhood or local parks can be safe and fun for children – just bring a plastic bag and gloves. Be sure to set rules in advance about what can and cannot be touched safely;  
  • Encouragement Rocks!  Invite children to spend some time painting rocks to scatter around the neighborhood for other people to find. Older children can paint encouraging words and phrases on their rocks, and younger children can paint with colors that they think will make others feel cheerful; 
  • Good Deed Day – Offer to do your neighbors a favor by pulling weeds in their yards, planting a small garden or making and hanging a bird feeder near their windows. These easy and fun activities will leave your children feeling like helpers and make other people a little happier during this difficult time.   

Pro tip – If you want your preschool-aged children to be enthusiastic about helping others, start by calling them helpersIn a recent study, children were more likely to offer spontaneous help to others when researchers told them, Some children choose to be helpers,” than when they said, “Some children choose to help.” This wording helps children begin to think of themselves as the kind of person who helps, and this encourages prosocial behavior. 

I hope you enjoy these ideas for how to engage in being thankful and giving!

Advice That Never Gets Old – Goddard Grandparents Weigh in with Words of Wisdom

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With age comes wisdom. That’s what they say, right? For the grandparents in the Goddard family, that’s certainly the case – they have kindly agreed to share a few pieces of universally helpful advice that have served them well over the years in the hopes that they could serve you and your children well, too.

  1. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Yes, the Golden Rule is as true now as it ever was. This advice is incredibly simple to follow: if you want to be treated kindly, then treat others kindly.
  2. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Which is to say that absolutely nothing good comes of saying mean things to people. We’re all human, though, and we all have unkind thoughts sometimes. If you have something rude to say, keep it to yourself. Or if you really need to get a mean thought out of your head, write it down on a piece of paper, tear it up and throw the pieces away. That way, nobody gets hurt.
  3. Nothing happens if you don’t show up. Be there for the people and things you care about. To create a full life, show up for school, show up for work, show up for your friends and show up for your family members. These actions can make all the difference in the world.

What are some sage pieces of advice your grandparents have given you?

 

How to Keep Your Children Connected with Their Grandparents

grandparent holding baby

By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

I remember my grandmother so vividly – her huge laugh and her insistence on the proper way to make a cup of tea. I also remember the lessons learned from her, and that connection has influenced my life to this day. Research in brain development shows that the interactions between children and their families build connections among neurons¹. Building positive and strong personal relationships helps to promote healthy brain development.   

My grandmother lived in England, so I did not see her often, but I still have a collection of those blue airmail letters that kept us in touch. We are more fortunate today. There are many more ways to stay connected when you live far away. 

The book Connecting Families: The Impact of New Communication Technologies on Domestic Life, edited by CarmanNeustaedter, Steve Harrison and Abigail Sellen, is about how technology has changed how families interact. The positive aspects include the ability to develop closely bonded relationships with family and friends both near and far.  

Here are a few approaches that can support your family in staying connected. The key is to do things that come naturally to all of you and are highly interesting to your children. This will help keep these virtual visits more fun and meaningful. 

Sharing routines – Spend a few minutes each day doing something fun, like a morning stretch or a few yoga poses. This could also be a time to chat about a plan for the day or eat breakfast together. Prop up the phone or tablet on the table, and share a mealtime. 

Reading a book – Your child can pick out a favorite story. Your parents can read part of the story each day for a few minutes each week, or they can read the story in one sitting. You may want to break it up for younger children. I have started to record myself reading a story, and then send the book to my greatniece in the mail. She gets a new book each month and then puts on the video and follows along as I read to her.   

Having a family contest – A lot of families have told me they love this one. Everyone gets sent a bag of things. For example, send out crayons, glue, paper and ribbons. The challenge is to make paper airplanes. The first video chat is about making the planes. The second is the virtual flying contest. It is easy to make the kits. Another idea is decorating face masks and sharing the results. 

Playing games – This can be done in several ways. Many games lend themselves to virtual visits, such as charades or board games (if all the teams and players have the same game). For example, if one player throws the dice and moves piece on the game board, the other team or player can do the same move with the opponent’s piece on the board to follow along 

Supporting schoolwork – Many parents have asked for help with this. Grandparents can help review the children’s work, teach them how to do a math problem or offer suggestions for completing the work. The children can connect with their grandparents while their parents take a break. Screensharing helps supports this because the grandparents see what the child is working on and where the child might need support. 

¹National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2007). The science of early childhood development: Closing the gap between what wknow and what wdo. Center on the Developing Child: Harvard University. Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu.

Grandparents Day

This Sunday, September 10, is Grandparents Day! Having strong family connections is important for a child’s healthy, happy lifestyle. Although there is a large age gap between preschoolers and their grandparents, children can learn a lot from their elders.

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Grandparents have vast amounts of wisdom to offer, and they can render a kindness that is unlike that of other generations. There is a certain admiration that grandparents and grandchildren share with each other, and it is beneficial to give them opportunities to spend time together. The celebration of Grandparents Day is a great way to show grandparents just how loved and appreciated they are.

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Homemade crafts from grandchildren are the perfect gifts to celebrate this special day.

Hand or Foot Print Masterpieces

Gather some non-toxic paint and have your child dip his hands or feet in it. Then place his hands or feet onto a sheet of paper, a t-shirt or a piece of canvas. After the paint has dried, help your preschooler sign his name for that extra special touch.

Photo Album

Sit down with your little one and sift through the photos that you have taken of her with her grandparents over the years. Choose the best ones (though they are all great!), and create a photo album filled with wonderful memories. Grandparents will be able to reflect on this gift for many years and enjoy reminiscing the beautiful moments they spent with their grandchildren.

Those children who live far away from their grandparents can still celebrate Grandparent’s Day. You can take a trip to the nearest assisted living center and spend some time with the residents who cannot see their grandchildren on Grandparents Day. The residents will be delighted to spend time with your child, and she will feel good about herself for giving back to those in the community while having fun.

What are some activities your family does for Grandparents Day?

Celebrating Grandparents

National Grandparents Day falls on the first Sunday after Labor Day every year.  With well over 25 million more grandparents today than in 1980*, it is a holiday worth observing. Grandparents all over the country help care for their grandchildren, and they deserve to be recognized for the support they provide to their families.

Celebrate National Grandparents Day with some creative activities and gifts.

  • Create an ecard online. Ask your children to help you choose the card and compose a message;
  • Help your children write a note or draw a picture for their grandparents. You can also send a photo of your children with their grandparents. Add a stamp and address the envelope, and have your children place the note in the mailbox;
  • Help your little one craft a one-of-a-kind piece of art for their grandparents. You can even buy a frame for the artwork and present it to Grandma and/or Grandpa;
  • Bake something special for your children’s grandparents. If they have a favorite treat or snack, your little chefs can help you whip up something sweet for their grandparents. Wrap it up in a nice tin or container;
  • Schedule some one-on-one time for your little ones to bond with their grandparents. Grandparents love nothing more than uninterrupted time with their grandchildren.

Reading is another excellent way to share stories and bond. Here are some special books to share with your children’s grandparents:

  • Your Mommy Was Just Like You written by Kelly Bennett and illustrated by David Walker – Children wonder what their parents were like when they were young. In this story, a grandmother tells her granddaughter what her mother was like as a child.
  • You’re Lovable to Me written by Kat Yeh and illustrated by Sue Anderson – This story illustrates that parents’ love never wanes, no matter how young or old their children are.
  • One Love adapted by Cedella Marley and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton – This story adapts Bob Marley’s lyrics into a story about a family, including a grandmother, that works with the local community to build a park where everyone can play and enjoy the outdoors.
  • You’re Going to Be a Grandma! written by Deborah Zupancic and illustrated by Joel Grothaus – This book lets a grandmother-to-be record important information about her new grandchild.
  • Grandpa Green by Lane Smith – This special story is about a grandfather who may be losing his memory and his grandson bonding over the topiary garden the grandfather has lovingly maintained for many years.
  • Here Comes Grandma! by Janet Lord – This book whimsically illustrates the lengths a grandmother will go to see her grandchild.
  • The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster and Chris Raschka – This book is written from the perspective of a little girl whose grandparents are her caregivers. This book is great for grandparents to share with their grandchildren, especially if they often look after their grandchildren.

Make celebrating your children’s grandparents and yours an annual tradition.  While we may show our appreciation for them every day, National Grandparents Day gives us a special opportunity to show them extra love and attention and teach our children about the importance of respecting their elders.

*Source: The MetLife Report on American Grandparents