Research shows that children generally have a very dim view of aging. Although they have a great deal of esteem for elders, children are afraid of growing older themselves. The stereotype of infirmity and passivity during later years is common among children, but those who have contact with elders are less likely to have a negative stereotype of aging. Being close to a grandparent, for example, might provide personal experience with someone who is aging gracefully and with dignity. When children view elder friends as persons, the negative stereotype diminishes. By becoming involved in their lives you can help children realize that aging is no tragedy, that they can look forward with hope and confidence to their own future.
- Prepare your Special Letter:
Emphasis the idea that people can continue learning and enjoying life throughout their later years. Each stage of life signals a change - new opportunities emerge as previous activities become less important. People can be creative and childlike at any age. Tell about some of the fun activities that you and your friends take part in. Mention some of the major changes you experienced as you grew up. Anything you think is important!
- For your grandchild's scrapbook:
Look through several magazines to find pictures of elders involved in various kinds of activities. Cut them out and paste the pictures on paper. If you cannot find any pictures, draw a picture of an activity you enjoy. Write brief explanations of these activities.
- In your journal (After completing letter 5)
Describe what growing older has meant to you. What are some of the major changes you experienced as you grew up? How have you responded to these changes? (After receiving your grandchild's special letter): Are there any important ideas about aging you would like to mention to your grandchild? How did your grandchild respond to this issue?
- Optional Activities (Choose as many as you want to do):
- Making a Mosaic. Save eggshells; wash and dry. Dip the shells in food coloring, using several colors. After spreading them out to dry crush the eggshells into small pieces. Draw a design on a sheet of paper and glue the colored shells into a mosaic. Write a brief explanation of mosaics and how they have lasted for a long time as decorations on buildings.
- Elders Can. Show your grandchild pictures of several objects made by elders in your community or by yourself. Attach these pictures to paper and include brief descriptions on them. Emphasize to the child that these things are possible because of the years of experience an older person can apply to the work.
- Grandpicture. Draw a portrait of your grandchild. Write a brief description of what you like about him or her.
- Mail what you have created directly to your grandchild. Ask your grandchild to respond with letter 5 on his or her instruction sheet.