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:

transitions(10) CCTV(1) youdoodle(1) outdoors(4) Learning journals(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Intention(1) Learning Stories Award(3) AIM(2) planning(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Mixed age groups(3) EECERA 2016(1) Plastic(1) Weather(1) School Age Childcare(1) National Awards 2019(1) Santa(2) Challenges(1) Inter-generational(2) Rituals(1) Arithmetic(1) Reggio Emilia(2) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Music(3) Educator of the Year Award(3) annual conference(1) Change(1) PIP(1) structure(1) Obesity(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) science week(2) RIE philosphy(1) International Narratives(1) Trade union(1) Early Years Educators(3) Arts(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Administrative Burden(1) National Pyjama Day(1) routine(2) Valerie Gaynor(1) GDPR(1) AsIAm(2) ReCreate(2) Confident(1) outdoor play(6) Margy Whalley(1) Afghanistan(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Smiles(1) Certificate(1) relationships(18) Exploring and Thinking(1) Performing(1) Time(1) Mantra(1) outdoor environment(1) Anthony Semann(1) developing motor skills(1) GoToMeeting app(1) blog(48) Sleep(1) Upcycling(1) National Awards 2018(2) Iraq(1) Thanks(1) Playdough(1) aistear blog(3) IGL(1) continual professional development(1) Impact(1) Window(1) early childhood educator(2) Cork(1) collaboration(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) movement behaviours(1) Professionalisation(5) DCYA(6) Workforce(1) Leadership(1) democratic citizens(1) Tuscan Approach(2) UNICEF report(1) science(3) Loving Relationships(2) Budget 2020(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Learning Journal(2) Pedagogical leaders(1) Xbox(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Photographs(1) Irish guidelines(1) Prexit(1) dogs(1) Creativity(5) Summer(1) Opportunities(1) Children's Research Network(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Síolta QAP(1) pablo(1) Japan(1) Celebrations(4) Your place(1) under 3's(3) Rising to the Challenge(2) Craft(1) Aistear(128) National Childcare Scheme(1) Whole Group(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Relaxation(1) learning hub(1) gender stereotype(1) COVID-19 landscape(1) environments(1) play therapy(1) Gratitude(1) Environment(2) peer group(1) emotions(2) Sculptures(1) Advocacy(1) eating(1) Anxiety(2) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Iceland(1) Academics(1) babies(7) Inspiring Practice(1) United Nations(1) budget(1) E.coli(1) meals(3) Seas Suas(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Easter(1) Treasure(1) Graduation(1) COVID-19(13) ECIAwards20(1) Independence(1) Story(2) play stories(2) mushrooms(1) Well-Being(10) iOS(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Winter(1) Sequins(1) ears(1) Diversity(1) risk assessment(1) Early Years(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Thank you(1) primary education(1) preschool settings(1) Ceremony(1) man up(1) Valentine's Day(3) Wilenski(1) education system(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Covid pandemic(2) Decision Making(1) Leargas(1) parents(6) Mealtimes(1) Rich Documentation(1) bonds(1) Trauma-Sensitive(1) First 5 strategy(1) value(1) Care routines(1) Belonging(3) Hand Hygiene(2) Blocks(1) Vertical grouping(1) Little Buddies(1) ERASMUS+(3) Digital(1) Event Guide(1) worries(1) Visual Impairment(1) Covid19 crisis(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Fabric(1) Routines(2) Exploratory Play(1) Kerry(1) Our Little Seed(1) Communicating(1) Party(1) Games(1) The Jelly King(1) Flowers(1) Awards 2018(3) Study Trip(1) Maternity Leave(1) Maynooth(1) Teamwork(1) Irish(1) Family wall(1) Pen green(1) Kids Own(1) Treasure Chest(1) bloom app(1) development(8) Map(1) Learning Stories(9) Maynooth University(2) Reading Time(1) Albert Einstein(1) Sustainability(3) UNCRC(2) Drawing(2) Mental Health(4) outdoor space(3) Pedagogy(2) journey(1) Thinking(1) First 5(1) early years research(2) Titles(1) Exclusion(1) Shoes(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) linc(1) responsive relationships(1) interacting(2) Infection Control(1) National Research Conference 2019(1) show and tell(1) reopening(1) ELC(1) listening(1) Breathing(2) Builders(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Cognitive development(1) Dance(1) trust(4) Brain(1) role playing(1) Wendy Lee(3) EECERA(1) Research Conference 2019(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Community involvement(1) Seanchaí(1) communication(4) Imagination(3) reading(5) Glitter(2) Social Skills(1) Technology(3) Exercise(1) dining(1) Communications(1) Appreciation(1) Light table(1) Children's Rights(3) Empathy(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) art of the relationship(1) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) risk(2) Building Resilience(1) Celebrate(1) research(6) toddlers(3) Sport(1) Limerick(1) education(2) Self Help Skills(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) baby room(1) Creative(1) behavioural science(1) TOY Programme(1) Mount Everest(1) Supernanny(1) play(35) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Performance Management(1) MA(1) Trade Unions(1) Sociodramatic play(1) grandchild(1) Self-regulation(1) Reopening Childcare(1) Pre-School Services(1) Mathematicians(1) Magda Gerber(1) Budget 2019(2) Leaders in Practice(1) Love(3) staying connected(1) Engineering(3) Kilkenny(1) HR(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) purpose(1) Settling in(4) Magnavacchi(1) Wrapping paper(1) Family(1) dining experiences(1) apps for children(1) Funding(1) Trick or treat(1) Running(1) Health(2) Inspections(1) learners(1) Yoga(1) Sweets(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Universal Design(2) National Holiday(1) mental health problems(1) Meal time(1) Affordability(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Meet the Members(1) Magic(1) Mindfulness(3) Child mental health(1) educating(1) Pobal sector profile(1) coronavirus(1) Wesco(1) Wonder(1) Reggio(1) family time(1) Scéalta Blog(103) Mo Scéal(1) documentation(4) Plants(1) ECCE(7) Deirdre Rogers(1) Síolta(132) Policy(2) creche(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Academic Skills(1) Siolta blog(8) Facebook(1) Capable(1) Favouritism(1) Awards 2019(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) child-centric(1) Role play(1) learning(19) CIT(1) Loss(1) CPD(1) Learning through Storytelling(1) Book Club(2) Maths Week(1) SPICE Framework(1) Sessional service(1) Oireachtas(1) Scents(1) preschool(4) Decisions(1) refugees(1) respect(5) Halloween(2) Competent(1) Shapes(2) Gardening(1) Culture(2) Death(2) Research and Professional Learning(1) children’s learning(1) Spiders(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Online Research Symposium(1) Eritrea(1) UN(1) Inter-generational learning(2) online training(1) UD(1) Exploring(1) phone apps(1) Small World Play(1) Design(1) christmas(9) stories(3) Laugh(1) Child Care(1) democracy(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Employee(1) Research Seminar(1) Recycling(2) animals(2) early childhood(1) Malaguzzi(1) Touch(1) childcare services(1) play pods(2) social science(1) educarer(1) memories(1) Vietnam(1) pets(1) Degree(1) Early Childhood Ireland(7) Penguins(1) Exit interview(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) emotional well-being(1) emotional environment(2) early years learning(1) Arlene Forster(1) Mark Twain(1) listen(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Large Doll Play(1) Feeding(1) Playschool(1) Lego(2) Early Learning and Care(1) DES Inspection(1) Jenga(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Equality(1) Line-ups(1) Reflective Practice(1) Interaction(1) Online(1) Body Language(1) keep in touch(1) Inspirational(2) annual awards(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Snakes(1) Confidence(1) Mayo(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Youtube Series(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) story time(2) Pobal(1) child-centred approach(1) Primary School(2) Learning Story(1) Frustrations(1) Maths(6) racism(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Adoption(1) food(1) Educators(2) Positivity(1) inspiring interactions(1) Trigonometry(1) Human Resources(1) Qualifications(1) Queues(1) experience(1) Bereavement(2) Sustainable(1) Snack Time(1) curriculum(5) San Miniato(4) Nonverbal(1) Interactions(3) Annual Conference 2017(2) Book Review(1) Twitter(1) research submissions(1) Grief(1) Support(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) life long learning(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Identity(5) Engagement(1) social media(1) Self-Esteem(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Special Needs Assistants(1) Training(2) NCCA(3) Pretend Play(1) Mud kitchens(1) children development(1) Inclusion(3) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) European Project(1) MECPI(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Awards Night(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Identity and Belonging(4) Stress(2) dublin(2) lockdown(1) conference(1) Digital Devices(1) Socioemotional development(1) Laughter(1) Through the looking glass(1) curiosity(3) reopening ireland(1) Traffic Lights(1) friendships(1) Children's Voice(1) Snacks(1) scéalta(51) books(4) Frosty the Snowman(1) Nutrition(1) learning bias(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Fantasy play(1) Childhood(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) New Appointments(1) Maria Montessori(1) College(1) Consent(1) Leprechauns(1) Budget 2018(1) Engineering Ireland(1) RTE Investigates(1) TRAP(1) Children and families(1) Return to Work Training(1) early life(1) Engineers Week(2) University(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Children(4) play pod(1) Norway(2) INTO(1) feisty(1) ECEC Setting(2) community(5) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) InspireMe.ie(1) overhear(1) Art(6) Potential(1) Childcare(3) EM Standing(1) Covid response(2) Infectious diseases(1) Italy(1) gender bias(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Workplace well-being(1) Counting(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Participation(2) Names(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Autism(4) awards 2020(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) SAC(1) Storytelling(7) risky play(2) Fee Play(1) Horizon 2020(1) Syria(1) Home Corner(1) Nuturing interactions(1) World Health Organisation(1) healthy eating policies(1) Awards(2) Inspired Practice Award(5) conversations(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Workplace Relations(3) NAEYC(1) Traditions(2) Staff Motivation(1) Montessori(3) Biting(1) Interests(1) Proceedings Journal(1) keezy(1) STEM(3) supportive environments(2) Masterclass(2) Early Years Education(1) National Annual Awards 2020(1) maternity health(1) Quality(4) ICBN(1) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Document Learning(1) Recycle(1) Investment(2) Behaviour(3) imotion(1) ECEC(3) Time Out(1) Painting(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Orla Kenny(1) Buddies(1) Elders(1) Graduate(1) Care-giving routines(1) code of ethics(1) Patterns(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Buddy Bench(1) Visitors(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) june29(1) Giraffe(2) Super Shed Stories(2)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine