A goal for Tudor House students and teachers should be to work alongside older adults in our local area for mutual benefit! Let’s spend some time with elders…. not everything can be found on Google.
In an episode of the ABC TV series Old People’s Home For 4-year-olds – an ‘experiment’ in which a group of older adults living alone join a group of lively 4-year-olds in an intergenerational playschool for learning, connection and friendship – we are reminded of how fortunate we are to work with children every day and what they teach us about life! During the series, the children and their older adult explore friendship, happiness and sadness, hopes and fears and in ‘pairs’ participate in indoor and outdoor physical, performance, creative, memory activities – with the results beneficial (and ongoing) to all involved, young and not-so-young.
Relating this series to our School setting, the skills developed in this ‘experiment’ align beautifully with our own, IB approaches to learning – and prove to be timeless and ageless.
All members of the social experiment benefited from interpersonal relationships and collaboration skills.
The participants were given the opportunity to understand the importance of and satisfaction in working alongside and helping others. Social-emotional intelligence was promoted through context. The 4-year-olds developed their capacity to help their older friend when required. The older participants enjoyed looking beyond their often lonely life, realising that they had much to contribute in enhancing life experiences of the 4-year-olds.
Our School Values: Humility, Honesty, Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Compassion and Excellence were continually demonstrated during this series of episodes.
Building, sustaining and enjoying relationships within our community enables us all to flourish.
The value of listening and speaking to build vocabulary and knowledge is clear. It was reported that the 4-year-olds were using new vocabulary and phrases unfamiliar to them before this experience – no wonder these skills are prioritised in English syllabuses, as a means to develop reading/viewing and writing. The older adults also acted as scribes (and vice versa) and readers when required. There was no judgement between the pairs which promoted the development of new skills.
We’re mindful of the importance of listening and speaking as a means to building reading/viewing and writing proficiencies. We should focus on impartial support for individuals to develop communication skills. The best way to ascertain progress in language acquisition is to have a conversation with children – the sandpit with Pre-K students is a great place!
All participants were given the opportunity to develop their critical-thinking skills. They were asked to reflect and demonstrate their meta-cognitive skills, ie when asked. ‘what is love?’ This is a reminder to us as teachers that we should ascertain children’s tacit knowledge (give them the opportunity to inform us), what do they already know about a concept from experience and context, before we take them to the next level. The constructivist approach is best practice in all settings – let’s start with what our children know already!
The undivided attention of an adult 1:1 to a child and the collaborative nature of the activities in the experiment, meant that the older adults spent time systematically supporting their 4-year-old through activities, without doing things for them. This proved to be reciprocal, with 4-year-olds recognising the need to assist their adult at times in gently coaxing them to have a go at things they didn’t think they could do, or not getting frustrated when they felt they couldn’t do/remember something!
Self-management skills should be taught deliberately, with patience, in context and with a clear purpose.
Goal setting and planning provided a focus for the participants in the series.
All participants were encouraged to ask questions to find out more – a fundamental skill in inquiry learning. Let’s encourage our children not to stop asking, “Why?” beyond the age of two! Asking questions leads to developing knowledge and understanding.
In addition to being reassured that our approaches to learning are effective … a goal for Tudor House students and teachers in the future should be to work alongside some older adults in our local area for mutual benefit! Let’s spend some time with elders…. not everything can be found on Google.