Many of our fondest childhood memories involve our grandparents. Perhaps it’s of our grandmother, dishing out freshly baked cookies and cocoa scented hugs. Or, of our grandfather, reading a favorite fairy-tale in a slow, calming voice.

For a young child, each relationship they form carries a significance. Relationships with parents and caregivers give them a sense of security and help them form positive attachments later in their lives, while relationships with their peers encourage empathy, friendliness and opportunities for fun. Recently, more and more people have begun to appreciate the value that relationships with the elderly can bring to a young child’s life.

These intergenerational relationships foster strong, enduring connections which help both age groups navigate the world more effectively..

Mutual Benefits

For the aged, building strong, meaningful relationships with children gives them a sense of responsibility and purpose, leading to better psychological and physical health. Interacting with young children can also help the elderly understand and cope with a rapidly changing world. Through positive relationships they can learn about important aspects of the modern world – for example, how to use technology or appreciate pop culture.

Meanwhile, through relationships with the elderly, children strengthen their social skills, including empathy, patience and responsibility. As children listen to and learn from the elderly, they understand more about history from a personal perspective and have access to a multitude of experiences, as well as advice. Studies, such as one conducted at the Stanford Centre for Longevity, have found that children who have positive relationships with the elderly show an improvement in cognitive abilities – they display increased academic performance and the ability to solve problems, while thinking critically.

Intergenerational relationships hold a special significance at Aurora Early Education. Sheela Edwards, the CEO of Aurora Early Education says, “At Aurora we invite grandparents and older members of the child’s family to partake in running specialist classes. We enjoy listening to the stories and sharing this with other children. We have especially enjoyed sessions run by our older members reading, making special gifts, gardening or sharing a skill.”

Strong, intergenerational relationships can blossom in any context. Look for how to help your child build relationships with the elderly, be it with family, extended friends or within your community. At Aurora Early Education, we invite older members of our community to take the opportunity to come in and share your rich and wonderful life with us!