Intentional Deep Experiences Across Lifecycles

FAQ – ECC/Elder Center Partnerships 

The elder center and ECE will each assign a point person. These point people, together with the teacher facilitators, will receive training on facilitating encounters. Ideal 18 professionals will support you during the first year.

Ideally, we try to create a 1-on-1 grandfriend-to-child relationship because this facilitates the strength of the relationships. Yet, if need be, two children can be paired with one grandfriend. For example, children have joined another pair when their own grandfriend is absent. In these instances, preparing both the child/ren and the grandfriend/s for the change is best.

Any age can work. We look at ability rather than age; if the grandfriend is able and ready to be emotionally involved and responsive with a child, then they are able to participate. If children will be visiting grandfriends who are in memory care, the experience is different.

At least twice a month, on a regular basis, is enough to keep the relationships building. Less is not enough and more may be taxing to the community.

Between 1.5 – 2 hours, including the introductory video made so as to introduce themselves to the family (attachment). At the training, the grandfriends will also need to sign media releases (for photos and videos for the purpose of documentation, learning, and sharing on various types of media).

The ECE/Synagogue has to be willing to assign a point person that has the ability to communicate with the Directors of ideal 18. Staff must also be covered for at least 6 reflective meetings a year. Consider parents and other volunteers as partners as well. Hopefully they will become involved in supporting the program and the relationships.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Consider whether this is a program for the whole school or certain classrooms. During the first year experiencing intergenerational work, we recommend starting with one class. The teachers in this classroom are hopefully receptive and excited about the idea of intergenerational work. Once there is more experience built in, it can move from the pilot program to all the 4 ‘s classrooms.

Ideal 18 Directors will work to coordinate visits or zoom calls to work with the teachers and point people.

Ideal 18 will train teachers on preparing the children and families. The teachers will also learn how to bring topics that emerge at encounters back to the classroom, and will also share documentation with the families such as videos and other documentation that capture the emotional and intellectual depth of the program.

If your school is chosen as the recipient of an Ideal 18 grant, the grant will cover the coaching/learning experiences and Director visits. Schools are required to cover staff release time for meetings and trainings, in addition to materials for the encounters. 

If your school is not the recipient of an Ideal 18 grant, you can access the assistance of Ideal 18 through consulting as needed.

Although the experiences with grandfriends have been overwhelmingly positive, there are always rare exceptions. There was one grandfriend in one program that belittled a child who was sad and after some conversations was counseled off the program. From here we learn (1) the importance of choosing grandfriends who enjoy and relate to children, and (2) how important preparatory training is both for the children and the grandfriends.

This is a very valid question. We have not had anyone link an illness to their participation in the program. We recommend that any grandfriend who is afraid to participate get a clearance from their physician. If a grandfriend’s immune system is particularly compromised it could then become an issue. Nowadays, however, everyone is exposed to more germs as travel has become more frequent and common. In addition, it is the ECE’s (and the parents’) responsibility to keep children home when they are not well.

We sensitize everyone who is working in this program to the possibility. We have crafted a letter [Insert link] for parents that is ready in our website. We also recommend reading children’s books about the life (and death) cycle in the classroom on a regular basis so as to normalize loss and death. We also recommend Earl Grollman’s writings on this subject.

We start including families from the beginning, with a letter notifying them and explaining the program. After the children prepare questions and work on what it means to get to know someone, we have sent videos of the specific grandfriend to the parents. Parents and children watch the video together with the grandfriend answering to the questions the children prepared as a means of introduction. Parents can be invited to join encounters during the year, or at the end of the year celebration. The school will share documentation of the encounters with families so that they can follow, enjoy, and be part of the learning.

All participants are responsible for participating in periodic training and reflection. All participants are responsible for appointing a point person to make arrangements for regular encounters, with materials that maximize creativity and interaction. 

Elder centers are responsible for ensuring that there is a room ready with square tables and chairs. Card tables are ideal. It will be important to hold the encounters in a space that is inviting, with tablecloths, natural light (if possible), making the space beautiful, welcoming and warm. The elder point person needs to send reminders before the encounters to the grandfriends on a regular basis and make sure they will come, especially at the beginning of the program until they form relationships with the children.

The ECE’s are responsible for documenting and disseminating the documentation: Videos, photos and conversations of encounters so as to share with the community as a whole. The ECE’s may collaborate with the elder centers to plan and prepare invitations and provocations for the elders and children to enjoy together. The ECE point person is responsible for coordinating with the Elder Center point person to create a transportation plan if necessary. Sometimes, Elder Centers may have mini buses or vans that they are able to use for transporting children or elders to encounters.

Several models have been successful, including using a school bus, the elder center van, and engaging parent drivers.