Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Montessori and Intergenerational Care

By: MAIRE CORBETT

Tuesday 05 November 2019

The Montessori Europe Congress was held in Dublin a few weeks ago. It was quite a while since I was at a Montessori gathering, and I enjoyed going back to my roots, so to speak!

Surprisingly however, the session I found the most inspirational was not relating to early years but with an American Montessorian, Jennifer Brush, who is using her passion for the Montessori principles with older people.

The first thing I loved about her presentation was that when she referred to the older people, she worked with she called them the Elders. So often, we call older people old-folk, the elderly, old-people, and we call the facilities in which some of them live nursing homes. This terminology can suggest that older people are all in need of care and minding and are unable to think for themselves or do things for themselves. The use of the term the Elders gives respect, value and validation to their knowledge and experience, while also acknowledging that many people in their older years do need more care than they did previously. It brought to mind our former President Mary Robinson's elevation as Chair of The Elders, an international global peace group, some years ago.

Jennifer described two strands to her work:

The first relates to the work she and her team do with providers of residential care for the Elders. I saw many parallels to Aistear in this approach, and in the principles of Universal Design. In the care facilities they always make snacks available so those living there can help themselves when they choose. Residents are encouraged to set the tables at meal times. There are tables and chairs and attractive alcoves dotted around the facility with meaningful activities available, just like the Montessori Practical Life activities: these include arranging flowers, folding, Montessori insets for design, pouring, polishing shoes, playing music CDs, using Montessori dressing frames and so on. Watering plants and other gardening tasks are also encouraged. Wayfinding is clear: There is good signage so people can find their way around and there are good visual cues to help. These simple steps to encourage people to remain independent and engaged in meaningful activity has, according to Jennifer’s study, led to a reduction in medication and to happier residents, who showed increased levels of well-being. 

Here in Ireland there are several examples of preschools visiting local residential care facilities and settings who have engaged in this have spoken about how successful this is. I have often wondered about extending this approach, both in terms of more settings doing visits and also those settings sharing more in their community (as opposed to just residential care facilities). Therefore, the second project Jennifer spoke about was very interesting to me.

The initiative involved older people who were either living in their own homes or in an assisted living facility.  A suitable venue was sourced (school /preschool settings are often not suitable due to space, storage etc.). This venue had to have good parking facilities, space for mobility aids, a range of furniture sizes, and needed to be orderly and beautiful, with good lighting, accessible bathroom facilities, and have access to the outdoors. An Interests Inventory was done prior to the commencement of the programme to identify interests and skills. (It wasn’t clear if it was only the Elders took part in this inventory, or if the children were asked about their interests also.) None of the Elders who took part were very frail. The children were aged 6 to 12 years and the Elders were aged 69 to 84 years. Full parental information was provided and consent was obtained in advance.

The aims of the programme were to:

  • Reduce stigma
  • Provide socialisation
  • Promote meaningful relationships
  • Support life-long-learning
  • Be entertaining

Screening of adult participants took place prior to the programme and they were never alone with children. 

The Elders arrived at the venue 45 minutes before the children, so they had time to check in and get settled. Then the children arrived. Various activities were set up, based on the Interests Inventory. These can range from language, arts, science, food preparation, puzzles and games. One man had a huge interest in coin collecting, which fascinated some of the children. The activity phase lasted about 45 minutes. A snack was available during the session. The programme lasted 8 weeks. Observational data has been gathered by researchers and is being collated at present.

Some challenges encountered before the start included some Elders being slow to make a time commitment, their fear of technology and of weather conditions. One man was slow to engage because he had a stammer and was afraid it would frighten the children: He never stammered once during the whole programme!  One person left the group and gave no reason and one because it triggered memories of a grandchild’s death. Overwhelmingly, the group wanted the programme to continue.  

In a world where extended families are less common than before, many grandparents, grand-uncles and grand-aunts don’t get to see their young relatives very often, and many children live long distances from their older relations, initiatives like Jennifer’s give all generations opportunities to learn respectfully from each other.

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

National Childcare Scheme(1) Family wall(1) research(6) natural environment(1) Learning journals(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) blog(54) preschool(4) bonds(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Exercise(1) outdoor space(3) emotional well-being(1) early years research(3) Workforce(1) Learning Stories(9) routine(2) Feeding(1) partnership with families(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Large Doll Play(1) InspireMe.ie(1) Imagination(3) INTO(1) GoToMeeting app(1) curiosity(3) Learning Journal(2) Consent(1) Appreciation(1) Degree(1) research submissions(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) New Appointments(1) imotion(1) Buddies(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Traffic Lights(1) Staff Motivation(1) Pre-School Services(1) Health(2) animals(2) Identity(5) Human Resources(1) Montessori(3) emotions(2) inspiring interactions(1) reading(6) ReCreate(2) Party(1) education system(1) Touch(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Reading Time(2) Covid pandemic(3) Nutrition(1) Wrapping paper(1) gender bias(1) christmas(9) Iceland(1) Budget 2020(1) Competent(1) Employee(1) Event Guide(1) Rituals(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Art(6) Pen green(1) Trade union(1) built environments(1) Inspections(1) risk assessment(1) Building Resilience(1) Adoption(1) Playschool(1) playleader(1) early childhood ireland research(1) Digital(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Self-regulation(1) Proceedings Journal(1) Grief(1) EECERA 2016(1) Advocacy(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Whole Group(1) Kilkenny(1) Window(1) community(5) Motor neuron disease(1) art of the relationship(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Wilenski(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Pretend Play(1) Síolta(138) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Budget 2018(1) Looking Back(1) Valentine's Day(3) TRAP(1) online training(1) RTE Investigates(1) Counting(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Yoga(1) Love(3) Arithmetic(1) risky play(2) Mayo(1) University(1) Flowers(1) children development(1) Orla Kenny(1) Painting(1) Horizon 2020(1) Thank you(1) Routines(2) Infection Control(1) Maternity Leave(1) scéalta(57) journey(1) structure(1) Japan(1) toddlers(3) Aldo Fortunati(4) educarer(1) Confidence(1) Book Review(1) gender stereotype(1) Light table(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Penguins(1) Ceremony(1) Our Little Seed(1) dining(1) UN(1) play pod(1) Positivity(1) Interactions(3) keezy(1) Syria(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Sleep(1) Gratitude(1) Investment(2) Return to Work Training(1) Wonder(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Time(1) multi-generational community(1) learning bias(1) preschool settings(1) STEM(3) story time(2) Upcycling(1) Reopening Childcare(1) UNICEF report(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Mathematicians(1) education(2) Wesco(1) Change(1) Scents(1) Brain(1) pets(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) dining experiences(1) refugees(1) developing motor skills(1) Pobal(1) democracy(1) Culture(2) STEAM(1) Siolta blog(8) Shoes(1) Early Years(1) iOS(1) Covid-19 lockdown(1) trust(4) Socioemotional development(1) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) Kindness(1) Irish(1) Your place(1) Engineering(3) Inclusion(3) Patterns(1) Early Years Education(1) Study Trip(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) early childhood educator(2) Youtube Series(1) Role play(1) Eritrea(1) Plants(1) Exclusion(1) june29(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Training(2) Cork(1) MA(1) curriculum(5) reopening ireland(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) babies(7) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Leargas(1) Trade Unions(1) San Miniato(4) homeschool(1) Reflective Practice(1) Sociodramatic play(1) reopening(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) SAC(1) listening(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Children(5) Glitter(2) Maynooth University(2) Laughter(1) childcare services(1) early childhood(1) Queues(1) DCYA(6) Death(2) Kids Own(1) ECIAwards20(1) Qualifications(1) Budget 2019(2) Traditions(2) Autism(4) Reggio Children Network(1) Administrative Burden(1) Awards 2019(1) CPD(1) Magnavacchi(1) Belonging(3) documentation(4) Affordability(1) collaboration(1) MECPI(1) Awards Night(1) Margy Whalley(1) Elders(1) phone apps(1) Wendy Lee(3) Performing(1) child-centred approach(1) Performance Management(1) Family(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) annual conference(1) Time Out(1) creche(1) Empathy(1) Drawing(2) COVID-19(15) Learning Story Awards(2) Music(3) ECEC(3) value(1) Seanchaí(1) mental health problems(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Plastic(1) Teamwork(1) Participation(2) Inter-generational learning(2) Child Care(1) Xbox(1) Interaction(1) Digital Devices(1) experience(1) ICBN(1) parents(6) Trauma-Sensitive(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Online(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Care-giving routines(1) Names(1) stories(3) outdoor environment(1) ECCE(7) Photographs(1) World book day(1) Pedagogy(2) role playing(1) dogs(1) Mark Twain(1) Buddy Bench(1) movement behaviours(1) Body Language(1) child-centric(1) Support(1) Environment(2) Anxiety(2) Funding(1) Early Years Educators(3) Small World Play(1) Leadership(1) Children's Voice(1) Facebook(1) Snacks(1) Communications(1) Vertical grouping(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Iraq(1) GDPR(1) overhear(1) Engagement(1) Growing up Outdoors(2) Inspirational(2) Thinking(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Titles(1) United Nations(1) conversations(1) Workplace Relations(3) Primary School(3) Magic(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Leprechauns(1) Supernanny(1) Confident(1) NAEYC(1) memories(1) man up(1) risk(2) Child mental health(1) Graduate(1) early years learning(1) annual awards(1) CCTV(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) friendships(1) books(5) Dance(1) ears(1) Universal Design(2) National Annual Awards 2020(1) Behaviour(3) supportive environments(2) Snack Time(1) Running(1) International Narratives(1) Trigonometry(1) Maynooth(1) Hand Hygiene(2) Book Club(2) educating(1) keep in touch(1) Quality(4) Italy(1) Arts(1) School Age Childcare(1) transitions(10) Lego(2) Mindfulness(3) Document Learning(1) science week(2) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Learning Story(1) social science(1) communication(4) IGL(1) under 3's(3) UD(1) racism(1) Through the looking glass(1) European Project(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) E.coli(1) Map(1) World Health Organisation(1) environments(1) Online Research Symposium(2) The Lullaby Book(1) pablo(1) primary education(1) Mixed age groups(3) aistear blog(3) Reggio(1) Sport(1) Sculptures(1) Relaxation(1) linc(1) Exploratory Play(1) Children's Book Club(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) Aistear(130) Weather(1) Educators(2) Meet the Members(1) Masterclass(2) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Summer(1) Maths Week(1) Engineering Ireland(1) healthy eating policies(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) baby room(1) Early Childhood Ireland(10) Impact(1) Kerry(1) Certificate(1) peer group(1) early year’s classrooms(1) Smiles(1) Little Buddies(1) lockdown(1) grandchild(1) Kindness Challenge(1) Malaguzzi(1) Communicating(1) Opportunities(1) Mud kitchens(1) Design(1) Anthony Semann(1) Technology(3) Builders(1) Mantra(1) Interests(1) coronavirus(1) relationships(18) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Twitter(1) Biting(1) emotional environment(2) social media policy(1) EM Standing(1) children’s learning(1) Trick or treat(1) behavioural science(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Stress(2) code of professional responsibility(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) youdoodle(1) social media(2) Early Childhood Education(1) respect(5) bloom app(1) Childcare(3) show and tell(1) Exploring(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(2) learners(1) outdoors(4) meals(3) Identity and Belonging(4) Halloween(2) Settling in(4) Mount Everest(1) Diversity(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Decisions(1) eating(1) Self Help Skills(1) Nonverbal(1) RIE philosphy(1) play(35) feisty(1) Inspiring Practice(1) early life(1) Loss(1) outdoor play(7) play therapy(1) Creative(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Decision Making(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) ERASMUS+(3) Children's Research Network(2) Well-Being(10) National Research Conference 2019(1) Norway(2) Recycle(1) Self-Esteem(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Educator of the Year Award(3) Afghanistan(1) Story(2) Winter(1) Laugh(1) DES Inspection(1) partnership(1) Treasure Chest(1) First 5(1) National Pyjama Day(1) awards 2020(1) Loving Relationships(2) Super Shed Stories(2) Sequins(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Santa(2) HR(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Independence(1) Children and families(2) Mo Scéal(1) PIP(1) Limerick(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Vietnam(1) Games(1) Sustainability(3) First 5 strategy(1) Intention(1) budget(1) play pods(2) life long learning(1) Recycling(2) Playdough(1) food(1) quarantine(1) Gardening(1) Craft(1) code of ethics(1) Home Corner(1) Visitors(1) Maths(6) interacting(2) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Community involvement(1) Bereavement(2) Visual Impairment(1) Covid19 crisis(1) apps for children(1) Seas Suas(1) development(8) early years settings(1) National Awards 2018(2) Line-ups(1) Creativity(6) Challenges(1) Care routines(1) Policy(2) The Jelly King(1) continual professional development(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Rich Documentation(1) conference(1) Fee Play(1) Awards(2) Research Seminar(1) College(1) Shapes(2) Workplace well-being(1) staying connected(1) Covid response(2) Exit interview(1) Children's Rights(3) Jenga(1) responsive relationships(1) Celebrations(4) Academic Skills(1) Awards 2018(3) Potential(1) UNCRC(2) Looking Forward(1) Fabric(1) Professionalisation(5) National Awards 2019(1) scientific and artistic processes(1) learning(19) Blocks(1) Giraffe(2) democratic citizens(1) Mental Health(4) dublin(2) learning hub(1) Sessional service(1) AsIAm(2) Engineers Week(2) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Thanks(1) Sweets(1) Scéalta Blog(104) National Holiday(1) Irish guidelines(1) Academics(1) ECEC Setting(2) Maria Montessori(1) Obesity(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Equality(1) Meal time(1) Breathing(2) play stories(2) COVID-19 landscape(1) Storytelling(8) Favouritism(1) AIM(2) listen(1) Fantasy play(1) SPICE Framework(1) Albert Einstein(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) Infectious diseases(1) Capable(1) Treasure(1) worries(1) Social Skills(1) Prexit(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Snakes(1) Spiders(1) science(3) an post(1) Cognitive development(1) Inter-generational(2) Arlene Forster(1) Mealtimes(1) worldbookday(1) Oireachtas(1) Sustainable(1) Childhood(1) CIT(1) planning(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) EECERA(1) NCCA(3) family time(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Graduation(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) TOY Programme(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) purpose(1) Síolta QAP(1) Reggio Emilia(2) Celebrate(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Easter(1) Magda Gerber(1) maternity health(1) ELC(1) Frustrations(1) mushrooms(1) Learning through Storytelling(2)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine