The Benefits of Intergenerational Play

Whether barriers have been invented by commercialisation, regulation, financial benefit or just the modern excesses of bureaucracy and red-tape, our society seems to have been segregating young from old, more and more.

In years gone by families were often larger; more generations tended to live together, care for one another and share more of the financial burdens of raising a family. While we’re now far more focused on specialised individual care for our seniors and little ones, we are losing out on the benefits and resources that these two age groups can provide for each other.

As modern families, we seem to have limited opportunities for our youngest and eldest loved ones to interact and learn from one another, and that is an incredible loss for our children and communities as a whole.

With this in mind, our Cherry Bridge Station Early Learning & Childcare centres have been successfully integrating intergenerational play experiences into our play-based curriculum for many years now.

We like to welcome grandparents to play an active role in the care and education of their grandchildren, and frequently hold dedicated events such as Grandparents’ Day and grandparents’ tea parties.

Many of our NSW centres have also hosted special events for the residents of their local aged care homes. Together with our children and educators, the elderly visitors have enjoyed afternoon tea parties, arts & crafts sessions, picnics and story time.

The recreation officers who accompany the aged care residents always report on the positive impact this type of intergenerational play has on the elderly participants, such as:

  • Reduced stress levels
  • Maintaining cognitive skills
  • Improved memory recall and problem-solving
  • Added sense of well-being and self-importance
  • Maintaining confidence and social interaction skills
  • Discussing experiences and looking forward to future events
  • Proud role-modelling/mentoring

Our educators are equally enthusiastic about the benefits of intergenerational play for our little learners. Reporting positive outcomes such as:

  • Improved language and communication skills
  • Practice with teamwork and problem-solving skills
  • Developing confidence and social ability
  • Better understanding of empathy, diversity and respect
  • Reduced stress levels and greater well-being
  • Gaining listening skills and general knowledge
  • Learning about differences, then and now, first-hand

So, whether spending more quality time with elderly family members or integrating with some of the older members of your community, the time our little learners spend with seniors can be so mutually beneficial that it would be a terrible shame to lose these interactions. Together we can create a society where children and the elderly are well-cared for without being segregated.