by Amanda Janquart
The children at All Seasons Preschool spend part of every day with the residents of Inver Glen Senior Living. We bring trays of art supplies, baskets of blocks, books, props for plays, instruments, and giant bowls of popcorn to them. We are welcomed into their living rooms and memory care coves. We sit on their couches and spread out on the carpet in the community room. We peek in on exercise sessions and salon appointments, stop by their library and card room, and are regulars passing through the dining room.
It makes sense that we go to the residents. There are seniors with mobility and cognitive difficulties or with hearing aids. Preschool classrooms can be overwhelming to the senses, especially to those sensitive to volume. And for seniors with mobility strains, our school can be a long journey from their home. All this isn’t to say that we don’t get occasional visitors. A handful of seniors come weekly, taking on the role of classroom reader or attending an art session in the Studio. Our ‘regulars’ are dearly loved, but we want to make sure all the residents know they are welcome to visit us.
Simply popping by isn’t a comfortable prospect for many of the grandmas and grandpas. Having a specific date and time to put on their calendars was needed, so an Open House gathering was created. Children made colorful invitations, which were hand-delivered or taped to every resident’s door if they weren’t home. We shamelessly enticed guests by offering treats. Preschoolers grew excited to be hosts as they baked banana muffins and brownies. They helped to prepare their classrooms, tidying up their cubbies, making way for wheelchairs, and adding adult-sized chairs. They practiced their greetings, like “Hello Grandpa Ed. Thanks for coming. Can I show you the toy cars?”
As each guest arrived, children eagerly shook their hand and encouraged them to look around the room. The children started conversations, like: “We can pop off corn kernels over here.” “Do you want to spread the (shaving) cream with me?” “This is the pumpkin we hammer into.” “Did you like the brownies?” “Will you write my story next (in their story journal)?”