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Posts Tagged ‘Grandparents’

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

cartoon grandparents with speech bubble

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.


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.


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

Celebrating Parents’ Day – July 28

The Goddard SchoolParents’ Day has been a national holiday since 1994 and is observed on the fourth Sunday in July. The holiday is an opportunity to celebrate family, the hard work of parents and grandparents and the effect good parenting has on our society. Make Parents’ Day special with simple activities that children can do on their own and activities the whole family can enjoy. Here are some ideas for your Parents’ Day celebration:

  • Create handmade artwork for grandparents;
  • Have the children put together a picnic for the family that includes their parents’ favorite sandwiches and treats;
  • Ask the children to help you with chores around the house;
  • Read together as a family;
  • Put together a movie night with a parent’s favorite family movie;
  • Wash the family car;
  • Give the pets a special treat;
  • Have a family Sunday afternoon nap or hour of quiet play;
  • Call or video chat with grandparents who live far away;
  • Take a nature walk together at a local arboretum or nature center;
  • Visit your local farm for fresh local produce and ice cream;
  • Ride bikes together;
  • Craft a handmade card with your child and put it where your partner or the child’s grandparent will find it;
  • Garden together.

*Some activities will require adult supervision.

Parents’ Day is not just a day for pampering parents and grandparents; it’s a day for focusing on your family and the effect good parenting has on our society. Celebrate your bond with your family by taking the time to focus on what really matters.

Grandparents to the Rescue!

Infant Boy WalkingOur energy-filled children can exhaust even the most active of grandparents—and us for that matter! If we are lucky enough to be able to count on beloved grandma,  great-auntie or another older family member to provide care for our little ones while we steal a few hours for ourselves, a night away or even just a less chaotic run to the market, a few advance preparations may help put our minds at ease.

  • Consider setting up the pack-n-play or nap area and a changing area on the main level to help alleviate the extra trips up and down the stairs for diaper changes, clean bibs, forgotten binkies and blankies.
  • If your child requires a specific diet, bottles or is just plain picky, prepare all meals/bottles in advance and place in a bin in your fridge. Clearly communicate what snacks are and are not okay for your child to have—a little spoiling now and then is acceptable, but some treats may be choking hazards or not age-appropriate, e.g. cookies may be fine, while chewing gum, hard candy and lollipops are not.
  • Pre-arrange your child’s sleeping area to include only the items that your child is allowed to nap/sleep with and communicate that to your caregiver. Remind grandma that the baby does not get an extra blanket and must always be placed on her back to sleep and your toddler may not bring additional toys or wear barrettes to bed.
  • Be sure that all dangerous items including cleaning supplies and medicines are out of reach, including anything that your caregiver may have brought in his or her suitcase or handbag.
  • Post (and point out) a clear list of emergency contact numbers, including your pediatrician’s office, Poison Control, a neighbor (if available) and your cell phone number—in emergencies, even memorized numbers may be forgotten. Encourage grandma to give you a call with any questions or to make the appropriate call if she feels help is needed.

Grandparents and Young Children

Does the following aphorism strike you as cynical or enlightened? Grandparents are close to their grandchildren because they share a common enemy.

I didn’t much appreciate this irony until I became a grandparent myself. The middle generation is the reason the grandkids exist in the first place, but they are also the ‘common enemy’ against which the forces of wisdom (grandparent) and immortality (grandchild) are arrayed. Grandparenthood enjoys the privileges of age and experience, and grandchildren (seeming) agelessness and inexperience. Only the ‘middlers’ bear the ultimate responsibility for damage control, missed bedtimes and nutritional excesses. Everything else is just plain old fun seasoned with pride.

But is this traditional view of grandparenting changing along with the American family? About 10% of all grandparents are caring for their grandchildren over 30 hours a week and/or 90+ sleepovers a year. Does this take a toll? Interestingly, caring for the young seems not only to have few negative effects on the older generation’s health, babysitting for them may be especially beneficial for grandmothers (grandfathers – as usual – await study).  This is not to say it’s always a piece of cake to smoothly manage all these needs spanning three generations.

Having two sets of grandparents should be a blessing, right? More helping hands, assets, etc.? But what if the styles and values of the grandparents differ significantly? For example-one pair childproofs the house for young visitors while the other refuses to do so ‘because it’s not good to teach children that the world can be changed to accommodate their needs.’ One routinely takes them shopping and the other insists that when they come to visit, they bring their own toys ‘since they don’t intend to spoil anyone.’

The effects of such variations on the grandparenting theme are less toxic to kids than to their parents since they learn early that it’s ‘G’Mom/Dad’s loving that matters; the goods and services are nice, but it’s being adored so unconditionally that feels so great. Not that the latter can’t be taken to the extreme occasionally. When my wife and I were recently consulting to an owner of multiple childcare centers in Shanghai and Peking, we heard, with troubling frequency, of young children ‘behaving so imperiously, defying teacher authority repeatedly’ because – according his head teachers – they are ‘treated like little emperors/empresses by four doting grandparents’ per child (given China’s one child policy).

Some suggestions to avoid such pitfalls while establishing lasting closeness through unique grandparent/child activities are listed below:

  • pick a series of picture or chapter books that are shared only between grandparent and grandchild
  • chose a particular destination for the skipped generation pairing –a manageable museum, a public park, breakfast/desert outings
  • apprentice the grandchild to a grandparent’s passion – dominoes, cooking, card games, fishing, a team sport (fan or participant)
  • memory moments stimulated by old photos, or recollections of parental childhood, or just ‘when I was your age…’
  • a ‘treasure box’ of things kept at grandparent’s house that are only played with, or worn, there