Guest Column: Hey grandparents and seniors, a fun Covid activity

By KAYE SULLIVAN | Special to the Herald Times

MEEKER | Here’s an idea for integrating multiple generations’ needs during Covid. If you’re a grandparent or a person any age with time on your hands, think about supporting the education of a grandchild or any young person.

We’re all frustrated with the restrictions of Covid and perhaps none more than young children who can’t really comprehend why the playground is closed or why they can’t hug friends or why Mommy is teaching them instead of attending a real school.

Then, there’s the parents who have already been the 100% support of their kids, mostly stuck at home, for the past seven months. Add on parents working from home and perhaps home schooling. I thought we could at least give our son and daughter-in-law, parents of a 5-year-old and 9-month-old, a break and backfill home schooling.

Our Facetime weekly sessions with grandson Grayson are the best part of our week. Unlike other family interactions, these times are just us three, aided by Mommy who sets up the laptop and gathers supplies.

Sometimes, we just chat. Our five-year-old is quite a talker and asks us thoughtful questions, like “Did we go to kindergarten?” When Jay said no, Grayson wanted to know why. Spanning the generations when kindergarten was a rather novel option 60 years ago, today’s educational standards are far higher. Grandpa wisely just said, “there weren’t enough kids.”

One time when I referred to Jay as “Honey,” Grayson stopped everything and queried “honey?” He was thinking of a food item. So, we had a fun discussion about how he is my honey, along with Daddy, Mommy, Baby Jack, and Grandpa. Gosh, you must monitor your vocabulary to really connect.

I read up on kindergarten skills and consulted with family and friends who connect with children this age. Learning tasks at age five are fun and easy to do. Grayson and we have matching books to color and another book with scissor cutting exercises. Sometimes we free hand draw on blank paper. Fine motor skills are essential learnings for kids this age. Coloring and cutting are actually very soothing and probably great for senior aged finger dexterity too.

Plus, we use a white board where we can write letters or short words to check Grayson’s letter recognition. Jay reads a poem from the same book his Dad read to him. Surprisingly, Grayson listens to these complex words and is learning his grandpa’s voice. Sometimes, I play him piano music.  We try to integrate a bit of our world with his, just a bit at a time.

I’ve checked out books from the Meeker Library to read during our sessions. Reading is challenging as it requires more concentration from Grayson who is only looking at a computer screen. It would be so much nicer if he could sit in our lap for reading together. But using a book with large images helps.

We’ve offered to reinforce specific skills from the at home kindergarten curriculum. Since Grayson’s four hours a day/five day a week program with Mommy is just starting, we’ll all give it time and not overwhelm the kid with too much serious work.

The word from Medford, Oregon, where Grayson lives is that he looks forward to our sessions as much as we do! Some focused time on grandchild/grandparent interactions just can’t be beat! 

I really think our experience can apply to anyone, any generational interactions or just a friend to a kid. Although online interactions have many limitations, at least we can connect safely with someone who may treasure our support.

In return, our own lives are replenished and filled with joy. Now, this is a wonderful way to endure Covid.