Children and Adults Reaching Each other
In the fall of 2003 our C.A.R.E. program (Children and Adults Reaching Each other), opened for children ages 1-4.
They attend Monday-Thursday (following a school schedule) from 9am-12pm. Our program can facilitate up to ten children a day. Children may register for 1-4 days.
Knowing how much ALL generations enjoy learning from each other, we decided to try to provide this interaction at our center. Our main goal was for all involved to have an opportunity to build relationships.
So, we invited everyone! Girls, Inc., Brownie Troops, Mom’s Club – just to name a few. But, we weren’t seeing what we had hoped for. Some groups were too large and overwhelming. Some were FAR too rowdy with little or no adult supervision provided by the organization. Most were not ‘prepared’ for our participants. Still, we marched on.
After lots and lots of trial and error, the correct combination of ages, size of group, planned activities and leadership evolved. WE created C.A.R.E. to fit our needs and wants.
In the fall of 2004, the C.A.R.E. program began at Hand-in-Hand Adult Day Center. During our first year, we provided two sessions each week – Tuesday and Thursday mornings, 9-12 pm, for 8 children ranging in age from 1-4. By January of our first year, we had a waiting list with MANY requests to increase our days, so we added Wednesdays.
During the summer, the program is offered one morning a week (Wednesday) for 8 weeks, signing up on a weekly basis.
When our second year began, we increased enrollment to 10 children each day. Some attend Tuesday/Thursday, some attend just Wednesday, and a few attend all 3 days each week.
We found what works for US. A SCHEDULED program for the kids helps them with a daily routine, and gives us time with each other AND time for the kids to do things on their own.
The morning begins with ‘free play’ in the C.A.R.E. room, with any participant welcome to join or observe. About 45 minutes into the program, kids and facilitators ‘meet and greet’ our participants in our day room. Welcoming each other, talking about what’s planned for their day ahead, what they have planned to do together- these things are discussed.
A craft is made and shared (or made WITH our participants) and they share singing together. We also ‘exercise’ together sometimes.
The biggest challenges have been to find intergenerational activities that work with OUR age children and adults. Usually the activities are geared toward older kids and higher functioning adults. We are learning how to ‘tweak’ activities to fit our generations.
Our dream is to create an outside space for ALL of us to share – one that’s safe and secure with paths for wheel chairs, walkers and trikes. We’d love raised planting boxes, a sand box and water box for the kids and a screened area to share snacks, quality time, and the joy we find spending time together.
The children are provided with an abundance of laps to sit in, ‘Grandparents’ to read to them, sing with them, and play with them.