Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Montessori and Intergenerational Care


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:

Easter(1) timekeeping skills(1) Counting(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Large Doll Play(1) Fantasy play(1) Arlene Forster(1) RTE Investigates(1) code of professional responsibility(1) International Narratives(1) Self-regulation(1) Painting(1) Belonging(3) community(5) Mindfulness(3) Italy(1) Xbox(1) Childcare(3) Research Seminar(1) Investment(2) routine(2) Awards 2019(1) pets(1) under 3's(3) pablo(1) Sculptures(1) Confident(1) Youtube Series(1) curriculum(7) Oireachtas(1) Mantra(1) ERASMUS+(3) INTO(1) Appreciation(1) Fire Safety(1) Map(1) Interaction(1) Wesco(1) scientific and artistic processes(1) outdoors(4) Seas Suas(1) Inspirational(2) Learning Stories Award(3) Christmas Creativity(2) School Age Childcare(2) purpose(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) mushrooms(1) Breathing(2) annual awards(1) Supernanny(1) Afghanistan(1) Early Childhood Ireland(10) Family wall(1) UNCRC(2) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) mental health problems(1) Graduation(1) Small World Play(1) multi-generational community(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) apps for children(1) Graduate(1) Seanchaí(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Diversity(1) Flowers(1) Creativity(7) Time(1) gender stereotype(1) partnership with families(1) Elders(1) Patterns(1) Well-Being(10) maternity health(1) NCCA(4) journey(1) bloom app(1) Ceremony(1) Meal time(1) Budget 2018(1) EECERA 2016(1) playleader(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Running(1) Early Childhood Education(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Affordability(1) Routines(2) Research Conference 2019(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Norway(2) partnership(1) Digital(1) Trade Unions(1) ICBN(1) Learning through Storytelling(2) Inspiring Practice(1) Names(1) Independence(1) Albert Einstein(1) Maynooth(1) Leargas(1) life long learning(1) early childhood(1) Engineering(3) STEAM(1) early year’s classrooms(1) Behaviour(3) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) E.coli(1) Siolta blog(8) Access and Inclusion Model(2) World book day(1) Croatia(1) bonds(1) babies(7) aistear blog(4) children development(1) communication(4) Visual Impairment(1) Irish(1) Nutrition(1) dolly parton library(1) SAC(1) animals(2) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Hand Hygiene(2) preschool settings(1) education system(1) reopening ireland(1) Dolly Partons Imagination Library(1) Covid pandemic(3) Confidence(1) Infectious diseases(1) Inter-generational learning(2) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) Grief(1) Treasure(1) Light table(1) guardian(1) ECEC Setting(2) Mayo(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Laughter(1) Covid-19 lockdown(1) play pods(2) Iceland(2) Gardening(1) conversations(1) Exit interview(1) Nordic model(1) Pobal sector profile(1) play stories(2) meals(3) Reopening Childcare(1) EM Standing(1) keezy(1) Leadership(1) Margy Whalley(1) parents(7) Snakes(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Summer(2) Cognitive development(1) Trauma-Sensitive(1) child-centric(1) Magda Gerber(1) Engagement(1) Horizon 2020(1) Relaxation(1) Cork(1) Professionalisation(5) Valentine's Day(3) Reflective Practice(1) Book Club(2) Anxiety(2) Identity(5) iOS(1) Playdough(1) ReCreate(2) Proceedings Journal(1) Halloween(2) Children's Research Network(2) Recycle(1) Exploratory Play(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Equality(1) Stress(2) planning(1) Masterclass(2) democracy(1) Policy(2) Identity and Belonging(4) Winter(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Builders(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Communicating(1) Vertical grouping(1) worries(1) doodle families(1) Creative(1) Plastic(1) Buddies(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) AsIAm(2) Growing up in Ireland(3) MECPI(1) play pod(1) Challenges(1) Arts(1) Art(6) Malaguzzi(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Plants(1) Human Resources(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Degree(1) CCTV(1) Skillnet(1) National Research Conference 2019(1) Biting(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Penguins(1) United Nations(1) Maths Week(1) early childhood educator(2) early years research(3) Children(8) responsive relationships(1) Japan(1) listen(1) Drawing(2) developing motor skills(1) Snacks(1) quarantine kids(1) outdoor environment(1) curiosity(3) presentation skills(1) Super Shed Stories(2) Mental Health(4) Impact(1) Childhood(2) risk(2) Environment(2) Thinking(1) Budget 2019(2) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Party(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Mixed age groups(3) worldbookday(1) Return to Work(1) Photographs(1) food(1) relationships(18) Weather(1) quarantine(2) Annual Conference 2017(2) New Appointments(1) UN(1) Home Corner(1) Child Care(1) Workforce(1) Dance(1) Time Out(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) memories(1) Intention(1) Academic Skills(1) Infection Control(1) racism(1) Celebrations(4) Covid19 crisis(1) Jenga(1) Brain(1) Culture(2) Loving Relationships(2) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Maynooth University(2) women in research(1) learners(1) Sustainability(3) behavioural science(1) Yoga(1) Fabric(1) Limerick(1) Digital Devices(1) Primary School(3) staying connected(1) Exercise(1) keep in touch(1) ECEC(4) Reggio(1) Regulation 23(1) Consent(1) science(3) Queues(1) Sessional service(1) Mo Scéal(1) democratic citizens(1) Performance Management(1) Through the looking glass(1) Workplace well-being(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) Communications(1) Montessori(3) doodle den(1) Potential(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Glitter(2) child safeguarding(1) risky play(2) Your place(1) Early Years Educators(3) Buddy Bench(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) emotional well-being(1) Community involvement(1) man up(1) Orla Kenny(1) Pre-School Services(1) homeschool(1) Unesco(1) Autism(4) Twitter(1) learning hub(2) Childhood Development Initiative(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Upcycling(1) Building Resilience(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Meet the Members(1) christmas(9) reading(6) Decision Making(1) Performing(1) Mealtimes(1) phone apps(1) Opportunities(1) Child mental health(1) emotions(2) Growing up Outdoors(2) Book Review(1) GoToMeeting app(1) transitions(10) Story(2) childcare services(1) Laugh(1) Pen green(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Prexit(1) Kilkenny(1) Qualifications(1) Kerry(1) Shapes(2) DCYA(6) Thanks(1) blog(58) TUSLA(1) Learning Journal(2) Blocks(1) gender bias(1) linc(1) Early Years(1) UNICEF report(1) Capable(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Iraq(1) Change(1) Our Little Seed(1) Pretend Play(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) Health(2) Eritrea(1) dining(1) Training(3) Kindness Challenge(1) Lego(2) Looking Back(1) Treasure Chest(1) environments(2) Children's Book Club(1) outdoor space(3) EECERA(1) Celebrate(1) Anthony Semann(1) Whole Group(1) Trigonometry(1) Children and families(2) Body Language(1) Nonverbal(1) Leprechauns(1) Sustainable(1) Workplace Relations(3) Awards 2018(3) DES Inspection(1) Motor neuron disease(1) experience(1) College(1) Empathy(1) UK(1) Employee(1) Visitors(1) Document Learning(1) peer group(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Return to Work Training(1) Trick or treat(1) art of the relationship(1) Sweets(1) Imagination(3) early childhood ireland research(1) Educators(2) educating(1) dublin(2) annual conference(1) overhear(1) continual professional development(1) Quality(4) learning(19) Maths(6) budget(1) Competent(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) an post(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Vietnam(1) Inter-generational(2) Socioemotional development(1) Obesity(1) Favouritism(1) scéalta(59) awards 2020(1) Line-ups(1) TOY Programme(1) Playschool(1) story time(2) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Feeding(1) Exploring(1) Pobal(1) Wendy Lee(4) Children's Voice(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) ELC(1) reopening(1) science week(2) stories(3) Maternity Leave(1) Online Research Symposium(3) Magic(1) Love(3) Frosty the Snowman(1) TRAP(1) inspiring interactions(1) RIE philosphy(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Kids Own(1) National Holiday(1) Window(1) lockdown(1) Adoption(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) Participation(2) UK Government(1) Academics(1) Storytelling(8) AIM(2) Awards(2) Learning Stories(9) Technology(3) Children's Rights(3) Maria Montessori(1) Care-giving routines(1) Role play(1) Mud kitchens(1) Arithmetic(1) University(1) Frustrations(1) National Awards 2018(2) IGL(1) Death(2) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Mount Everest(1) UD(1) CIT(1) Facebook(1) Social Skills(1) Reading Time(2) supportive environments(2) Settling in(4) Self-Esteem(1) Early Years Education(1) Sequins(1) Family(1) research(8) Santa(2) MA(1) natural environment(2) COVID-19 crisis(1) Decisions(1) Certificate(1) Study Trip(1) social media policy(1) Smiles(1) Learning journals(1) grandchild(1) Advocacy(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Wrapping paper(1) SPICE Framework(1) Titles(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(2) COVID-19 Reopening(2) books(5) Fee Play(1) social science(1) Event Guide(1) Magnavacchi(1) Interactions(3) Syria(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) HR(1) Kindness(1) children’s learning(1) Self Help Skills(1) Funding(1) Pedagogy(2) Mathematicians(1) European Project(1) Early Learning and Care(2) First 5(1) San Miniato(4) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) child-centred approach(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Wilenski(1) ECIAwards20(1) CPD(1) early years learning(1) show and tell(1) family time(1) Women(1) respect(5) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) early years settings(1) value(1) toddlers(3) interacting(2) Síolta(139) imotion(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Scents(1) ears(1) development(9) Maths Week Ireland(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) baby room(1) Traditions(2) outdoor play(7) COVID-19 landscape(1) collaboration(1) listening(1) social media(2) Thank you(1) National Awards 2019(1) Europe(1) Positivity(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) dining experiences(1) PIP(1) Loss(1) Design(1) education(2) preschool(4) Irish guidelines(1) Giraffe(2) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) eating(1) Aistear(132) First 5 strategy(1) Support(1) Staff Motivation(1) preschools(1) structure(1) Trade union(1) learning bias(1) Universal Design(2) Rituals(1) STEM(3) Spiders(1) Shoes(1) creche(1) GDPR(1) play therapy(1) refugees(1) built environments(1) Administrative Burden(1) educarer(1) Recycling(2) Exclusion(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Sport(1) Mark Twain(1) Sleep(1) Online(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Snack Time(1) trust(4) Scéalta Blog(106) Interests(1) Music(3) primary education(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Leaders in Practice(1) dogs(1) healthy eating policies(1) Care routines(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Craft(1) play(37) Rich Documentation(1) documentation(4) june29(1) conference(1) Games(2) upskilling(1) ECCE(7) Inspections(1) online training(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) early life(1) Little Buddies(1) Traffic Lights(1) youdoodle(1) research submissions(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Engineers Week(2) Awards Night(1) Reggio Emilia(2) NAEYC(1) COVID(3) movement behaviours(1) Budget 2020(1) Inclusion(3) COVID-19(18) Rising to the Challenge(2) Síolta QAP(1) child led(1) emotional environment(2) feisty(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Looking Forward(1) code of ethics(1) Teamwork(1) coronavirus(1) Learning Story(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) friendships(1) role playing(1) Wonder(1) Liz Kerrins(1) risk assessment(1) National Annual Awards 2020(1) World Health Organisation(1) Bereavement(2) QRF(1) Touch(1) nutritional learning(1) The Jelly King(1) Covid response(2) Gratitude(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine