You All Cheer Me Up So Much!

Hi Everyone, I am really incredibly lucky as, all over the country, I get lovely comments and emails telling me what you are doing. Do you remember some time ago I wrote a blog about starting intergeneral circle time in an older people’s home in Sheffield – this was in May 2011. I have just had a lovely little letter sent from Emma, a teacher at Watercliffe Meadow school, who has kept the project going along with her TA – I thought I would share it with you as it is very inspiring. There are so many of you who are unsung heroes – every day you do something above and beyond your ‘duty’. There is a spiritual aspect to our jobs as teachers, which we don’t talk about much. Every time you are bigger than the behaviours that hurt you or you give back more than you are ever given then you are, in a very simple but real way, engaged in spirituality. You are inspiring children by the flame of your strength of commitment, of kindness, courage and love.

This is my own mother in her 90th year!

Intergenerational circle time – Watercliffe Meadow Primary and The Meadows Extra Care Housing by Emma Rhodes, Teacher in charge of Quality Circle Time, Watercliffe Meadow School

Back in May 2011 Jenny Mosley came to Watercliffe Meadow to take some children to start an Intergenerational Circle Time project. This first visit was so well received that two members of staff have continued to make this happen.

Every few weeks a group of 8 children, 4 Y3 children and 4 Y6 children get together to plan some activities and games to play with the older people.

The children are all really enthusiastic about the project and demonstrate great care and empathy when playing with the older people. Such sights of reciprocity with the two generations learning so much from each other is truly amazing to see. The age gap has never been a problem because whilst playing together the two generations find common ground and strike conversation from this and when playing the older people revert back to their inner child.

The exercise has been hugely beneficial for our children in recognising that older people have difficulties that they need to overcome and this enables our children to take on a leading role. The children recognise that the older people do not always understand the rules of the game but the children accept this in the same way that they would with younger children. Some of our more challenging children show great empathy towards the older people, much more than they do with children of their own age.

The children at Watercliffe Meadow are familiar with the circle time steps, however we recognised that the older people were not so used to the concept se we decided to shorten the process to start with a warm up game that everyone can join in and the children quite naturally help the older participants there in the same way that they would help younger children in school. Following this we always introduce ourselves and say how we are feeling that day or what we are looking forward to. We now have a solid group of between 8 to 10 older people who come to our circle time each time – if they think we have left it too long between visits they phone the school!!

After this we play games suggested by the older people such as dominoes, snakes and ladders, pick up sticks, cards and ludo. The older people asked for these games as they were ones that they played as a child and have enjoyed teaching them to our children! One of our older people commented ‘I have loved playing today. I used to be a dominoes champion and haven’t played for years!’

We always come together to share stories over a cup of tea and a biscuit and the older people often bring sweets for the children to take away and vice versa. The session always ends after about an hour with thank-you’s and good byes.