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Family Files

Generations can learn from each other

Man and boy fishing together at pond

With social isolation having such negative consequences on people and seeming to have increased especially with the COVID pandemic, I thought it would be good to share this article I originally wrote in 2018. When children, teens and younger adults spend time with older adults, there are many benefits to everyone involved. Older adults can be great role models for children, while also passing on family stories, historical information and teaching the rituals and traditions of earlier times. Children can also improve their practical living skills and ability to problem-solve when applying the wisdom and life experiences gained from those that have lived for many years.

Older adults can also benefit from their interactions with youth. They too can learn new skills, like technology, and often feel rejuvenated and energized after spending time with young ones. The more time spent with each other can also bring greater understanding and appreciation of each generation – their beliefs, values, and behaviors.

There are many activities that are ideal for various generations to do together. Some of these activities include: genealogy, storytelling, scrapbooking, art, gardening, music, community service projects, technology, cooking, crafts, games, traveling, fishing, nature walks, movies and sports. Many of these provide opportunities for lessons learned and taught for everyone involved.

There is a wonderful 4-H project called "Walk in My Shoes" that teaches aging awareness to youth. Check out the website and see some of the activities that youth can participate in to learn more about getting older. Our Extension staff can also provide this program on request.

Also check out Penn State Extension's Intergenerational Activities Sourcebook which has lots of activity ideas.

When different generations spend time together – good things happen!!

Author: Cheri Burcham is responsible for family life programming in the counties of Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Moultrie, Shelby and other parts of east central Illinois as needed. Cheri’s emphasis is on healthy lifestyles throughout the life span which include family relationships, communication, caregiving, stress management and human development including early childhood and healthy aging. Her passion is to help people to be their best selves and to promote a healthier, independent older population. When Cheri is not engaged in Extension work, she can be found raising Monarch butterflies and spreading the word about their amazing life cycles and migration to anyone who will listen!