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:

First 5 strategy(1) Trade Unions(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) INTO(1) Xbox(1) Reopening Childcare(1) education(2) dining experiences(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Intention(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Learning Journal(2) scéalta(38) Early Childhood Ireland(3) Trigonometry(1) Penguins(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) European Project(1) PIP(1) Biting(1) science week(2) reopening ireland(1) Your place(1) Exit interview(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) E.coli(1) trust(4) COVID-19 crisis(1) Belonging(3) Cork(1) Síolta QAP(1) National Awards 2018(2) outdoor play(6) Growing up Outdoors(1) Rich Documentation(1) art of the relationship(1) Covid19 crisis(1) Gardening(1) ECCE(7) iOS(1) budget(1) Mount Everest(1) relationships(17) UNCRC(2) Traditions(2) baby room(1) Mayo(1) Iraq(1) childcare services(1) awards 2020(1) Mantra(1) Glitter(2) phone apps(1) UN(1) Traffic Lights(1) EECERA 2016(1) Quality(4) eating(1) GoToMeeting app(1) supportive environments(2) Elders(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Buddy Bench(1) Reggio Children Network(1) emotions(2) Love(2) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Nutrition(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Snacks(1) Photographs(1) Sessional service(1) apps for children(1) Inclusion(3) Aldo Fortunati(4) preschool(4) Magnavacchi(1) AsIAm(2) Design(1) EM Standing(1) Certificate(1) Death(2) curiosity(3) Support(1) Jenga(1) children development(1) Awards Night(1) planning(1) Wendy Lee(3) Early Years Educators(3) Frustrations(1) Wonder(1) keep in touch(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) annual conference(1) Academics(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Stress(2) First 5(1) Professionalisation(5) Light table(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) TRAP(1) play pod(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Self Help Skills(1) Playdough(1) Reggio(1) Maynooth University(2) Inter-generational learning(2) CIT(1) Decision Making(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Funding(1) outdoor space(3) New Appointments(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Behaviour(3) Visitors(1) Loss(1) value(1) RIE philosphy(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Frosty the Snowman(1) Blocks(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Infectious diseases(1) Performing(1) Sociodramatic play(1) dining(1) Rituals(1) Well-Being(9) risk assessment(1) DCYA(4) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Teamwork(1) Pre-School Services(1) Study Trip(1) movement behaviours(1) Maternity Leave(1) pablo(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) MA(1) play pods(1) Meet the Members(1) Children's Research Network(1) Fabric(1) Awards(2) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) MECPI(1) mushrooms(1) Book Review(1) Window(1) Recycle(1) christmas(9) Graduate(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Childhood(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Giraffe(2) Universal Design(2) Learning Story(1) Qualifications(1) Training(2) National Awards 2019(1) Gratitude(1) environments(1) Policy(2) Summer(1) Exercise(1) Kids Own(1) Document Learning(1) Aistear(122) NCCA(3) refugees(1) listening(1) developing motor skills(1) early years learning(1) Thank you(1) Care-giving routines(1) Touch(1) conference(1) Children(4) Self-regulation(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Horizon 2020(1) Playschool(1) GDPR(1) Exploring(1) TOY Programme(1) Music(3) blog(35) Educator of the Year Award(3) Albert Einstein(1) Primary School(2) Nonverbal(1) Leadership(1) Capable(1) NAEYC(1) primary education(1) Halloween(2) Leaders in Practice(1) Trade union(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Celebrations(4) Buddies(1) The Jelly King(1) Mo Scéal(1) Little Buddies(1) communication(4) Role play(1) Scéalta Blog(99) Facebook(1) ECEC(2) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Eritrea(1) DES Inspection(1) Storytelling(6) Japan(1) life long learning(1) Favouritism(1) CPD(1) Workplace well-being(1) Feeding(1) Children's Voice(1) Síolta(118) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) feisty(1) Visual Impairment(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) staying connected(1) Maria Montessori(1) Maynooth(1) Iceland(1) maternity health(1) Awards 2019(1) Early Learning and Care(1) STEM(3) SAC(1) Budget 2018(1) Engineering(3) Routines(2) Learning Story Awards(2) Thanks(1) Mental Health(3) man up(1) Exclusion(1) research submissions(1) Workforce(1) Maths(5) Social Skills(1) Meal time(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) behavioural science(1) Communications(1) Grief(1) journey(1) parents(6) respect(5) interacting(2) Line-ups(1) Covid pandemic(1) Snack Time(1) Seas Suas(1) continual professional development(1) Time(1) Wilenski(1) Budget 2019(2) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Health(2) Pedagogy(1) Prexit(1) Plants(1) Educators(2) Malaguzzi(1) Mark Twain(1) Confidence(1) Early Years(1) Snakes(1) Recycling(2) Reflective Practice(1) Imagination(3) Care routines(1) Brain(1) National Pyjama Day(1) worries(1) routine(2) Plastic(1) Treasure Chest(1) june29(1) Impact(1) HR(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Adoption(1) Environment(2) Child mental health(1) Obesity(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Maths Week Ireland(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Through the looking glass(1) ReCreate(2) Creative(1) Workplace Relations(3) Leprechauns(1) Challenges(1) Mathematicians(1) Kilkenny(1) social science(1) keezy(1) Valentine's Day(3) Research Seminar(1) Staff Motivation(1) Our Little Seed(1) Interests(1) Self-Esteem(1) Time Out(1) youdoodle(1) Party(1) Event Guide(1) Running(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Potential(1) Winter(1) Participation(2) IGL(1) Interactions(2) Shapes(1) curriculum(5) Names(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Yoga(1) social media(1) educarer(1) Story(1) Italy(1) Positivity(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) food(1) Body Language(1) Infection Control(1) learners(1) Book Club(2) Mindfulness(2) Kerry(1) stories(3) Affordability(1) bloom app(1) Limerick(1) Thinking(1) Inspections(1) science(3) Identity(5) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Vertical grouping(1) racism(1) Ceremony(1) Learning journals(1) overhear(1) Communicating(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Digital(1) University(1) AIM(2) Graduation(1) Creativity(4) Builders(1) SPICE Framework(1) lockdown(1) Hand Hygiene(2) Fantasy play(1) Family wall(1) San Miniato(4) Laughter(1) Sustainability(3) Inspirational(2) risk(2) Nuturing interactions(1) Online(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Leargas(1) Competent(1) Learning Stories(9) experience(1) Human Resources(1) Sustainable(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Arts(1) Santa(2) Lego(2) Fee Play(1) Independence(1) outdoors(3) Magic(1) Montessori(3) pets(1) Administrative Burden(1) Supernanny(1) purpose(1) Wesco(1) Sleep(1) Twitter(1) InspireMe.ie(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) dublin(2) Flowers(1) Change(1) reading(5) Settling in(4) Confident(1) structure(1) preschool settings(1) ears(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Art(6) Maths Week(1) Degree(1) Norway(2) under 3's(3) Easter(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) learning bias(1) Super Shed Stories(2) United Nations(1) Digital Devices(1) educating(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) show and tell(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Engineers Week(2) Magda Gerber(1) Academic Skills(1) Syria(1) play stories(2) Budget 2020(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) CCTV(1) role playing(1) Spiders(1) Inter-generational(2) Diversity(1) COVID-19 Reopening(1) emotional environment(2) Arlene Forster(1) grandchild(1) College(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Childcare(3) books(4) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) family time(1) aistear blog(3) Weather(1) Relaxation(1) Scents(1) Opportunities(1) Oireachtas(1) Sculptures(1) Empathy(1) learning(19) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Pobal sector profile(1) National Holiday(1) Awards 2018(3) Games(1) Wrapping paper(1) Irish(1) healthy eating policies(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) dogs(1) Advocacy(1) RTE Investigates(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Patterns(1) Appreciation(1) research(6) The Lullaby Book(1) Arithmetic(1) Pen green(1) Children's Rights(3) Equality(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) babies(7) Youtube Series(1) Mealtimes(1) Autism(4) Child Care(1) Margy Whalley(1) Interaction(1) Engineering Ireland(1) School Age Childcare(1) Drawing(2) friendships(1) code of ethics(1) Laugh(1) conversations(1) Whole Group(1) Afghanistan(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Map(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) Painting(1) child-centred approach(1) transitions(10) bonds(1) development(8) documentation(4) Masterclass(2) Technology(3) Access and Inclusion Model(2) child-centric(1) toddlers(3) Home Corner(1) Treasure(1) ERASMUS+(3) Bereavement(2) Cognitive development(1) Queues(1) ICBN(1) Orla Kenny(1) Socioemotional development(1) Mud kitchens(1) Culture(2) play(34) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Learning Stories Award(3) Siolta blog(8) Family(1) early childhood educator(2) UD(1) Trick or treat(1) meals(3) Identity and Belonging(4) Consent(1) Sport(1) Anxiety(2) Mixed age groups(2) animals(2) Children and families(1) Sweets(1) Community involvement(1) early life(1) gender bias(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Decisions(1) Upcycling(1) Reading Time(1) early years research(2) Breathing(2) listen(1) Shoes(1) ELC(1) Celebrate(1) Building Resilience(1) memories(1) community(5) Pobal(1) play therapy(1) gender stereotype(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) risky play(2) Performance Management(1) Titles(1) imotion(1) Craft(1) ECEC Setting(2) linc(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) collaboration(1) story time(2) COVID-19(5) Sequins(1) Investment(2) Dance(1) Vietnam(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Engagement(1) Smiles(1) Employee(1)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine