Recently, the hallways and classrooms of Northview Elementary School have been buzzing with the chatter of young students interacting with their grandparents and creating memories they can share for a lifetime. Grandparents came from down the street to as far away as California and Pennsylvania to share a part of Grandparents Week with their Northview grandchildren.
At Northview, one of our core beliefs is that interaction between home and school positively enriches all students. Toward that end, Grandparents Day was restructured several years ago by staff members passionate about creating special moments for young children and their seasoned counterparts. It has now evolved to a multi – day event in which each grade level has a morning or an afternoon session specifically designated for them and their grandparents.
The goal of each session is to create opportunities for grandparents to enter their grandchild’s world and create special memories and connections. This year’s activities included a “Carrots & Canvas” session in which Northview art teacher, Patricia Cummings, led everyone in the creation of their own artistic masterpiece. Classroom teachers led groups in special activities such as creating crafts, sharing gratitude journals, or engaging in ongoing online conversations and similar projects using the students’ Chromebooks or iPads. Many of the activities were parts of larger units of study. Other activities rounding out the event included taking a commemorative picture, visiting the fall Book Fair, and sharing special patriotic performances designed to commemorate Veterans Day.
In the current educational climate with high stakes testing and ongoing academic performance requirements, many question whether there is a room for events such as Grandparents Week. At Northview, we embrace the event as an opportunity to create experiences that not only shape the life of a child, but also enhance connectedness with the school; something about which we’re passionate. Current research confirms the effect that shared experiences and connectedness have on students’ progress. Polite citizenship reflected in good manners and communication skills are effectively embraced as well. Equally important, shared cross – generational experiences enhance support structures for navigating through challenging relational or academic experiences that the child may yet face.
For these reasons and for the sheer excitement in the eyes of the children, Northview and many other schools want grandparents to know they are welcome, appreciated, and have much to contribute in keeping our schools strong, yet nurturing learning communities.