Whether grandparents and their grandchildren live close by, far away, or together, they can use several ways to stay in touch and build a close relationship. The activities below can help your children foster those relationships.
Share photos of your children at different stages of growth. Then bring out similar photos of you with one or more of your parents. Talk with your children about the differences and similarities they see. Then view photos of your children with one or more grandparents. Compare the scenes, poses, and activities found in all the pictures. Later, when a grandparent is available, review these same photos and then take new ones to add to your collection.
A family tree gives children a visual idea of how they fit into a family. On a large poster board, draw the outline of a big tree with several branches and limbs. Then, using a separate piece of paper, cut out large circles to place on the tree to represent grandparents and parents and smaller circles to represent children. Write the names of family members on the circles or have your children draw in faces, and place these in the appropriate part of the tree.
Listen to Me
Telephone calls are in the moment and bring the speakers close quickly. But phone calls don’t last long. Record the grandparent’s and grandchildren’s voices on tape or a CD to share with each other, particularly if they are at a distance. These can be played over and over again, and they are fun to listen to as the children grow.
Talk to Me
Technology has become an integral part of children’s lives. With proper parental monitoring and guidance, grandparents and grandchildren can use available technology, such as Skype, texting, and e-mail, to stay connected. Stay in touch by sending text messages, or set up weekly times to engage in virtual visits using Skype. In preparation for a call, provide time for your children to plan what new skill, song, or activity they want to share with their grandparents. At the same time, have grandparents select a weekly nighttime story to share with their grandchildren. Be creative and have fun by taking turns to share. Make it a habit to stay connected through the incorporation of modern technology.
Parents love to tell stories about their children, including their grown children, and little children love to hear those stories. Ask a grandparent to share a favorite story about your child’s mom or dad and to explain why that story means so much to them. Then have each child share a favorite story about someone else in the family.
Some children do not have grandparents, and not all older people are grandparents or see their own grandchildren often. Both the children and the elderly might welcome those roles. Consider taking your children, or a group of children, at regular intervals to a local nursing home or activity center for seniors to get to know the residents. Encourage the children to share pictures they have drawn and songs they have learned.
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