For some older adults “the golden years” may mean a time to rest, relax and check off items on a proverbial “bucket list.” For others, it may mean that due to circumstances, they’ve had to step up and care for or raise their school-aged grandchildren. Enter COVID-19 and grandparents are being tasked with a new responsibility: helping their grandchildren with virtual learning.
Dr. Charisse Smith, an Instructional Coach with the Hamilton Township (Mercer County, NJ) Public Schools and President of the ETE–Excellence Through Education of Hamilton Township, discusses this new wave of “learning together” on the July episode of Aging Insights, with host Melissa Chalker.
Launched in 2011, Aging Insights is an award-winning, half-hour monthly TV show produced by NJ Foundation for Aging, which promotes dialogue and provides resources on critical issues for older adults and caregivers. Episode 106, “Learning Together,” can also be viewed on NJFA’s website at https://www.njfoundationforaging.org/… and more than 70 public-access stations across NJ (check local listings for channels and times).
Dr. Smith, of Trenton, NJ, earned a Ph.D. in Education with a specialization in Professional Studies and serves on the boards of NJ Foundation for Aging and Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville, NJ.
She notes that many children where she works are being raised by their grandparents. “A bonus to our students and schools is to have our grandparents as part of our teaching partnership,” Dr. Smith says.
Grandparents do face unique challenges and added stress in this new homeschooling/teaching role. “Technology alone has been a very large mountain many of us have had to climb – especially for those populations that are not tech-savvy or comfortable with technology,” Dr. Smith says. She adds that in some households, a grandparent may be caring for and teaching a grandchild while also caring for a sick spouse.
In response to the struggles faced by multi-generational households, Dr. Smith launched “Coaching Corner,” a virtual Friday afternoon meet-up where she shares dos and don’ts, provides motivation and inspiration, and discusses self-care.
On “Learning Together,” Dr. Smith also gives tips and fun resources to help grandparents keep their grandchildren engaged over the summer to combat summer slide, “so they don’t fall behind.”
To read more about this topic and obtain additional resources, see Dr. Smith’s guest blog at https://blog.njfoundationforaging.org….
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New Jersey Foundation for Aging (www.njfoundationforaging.org) is the only statewide nonprofit organization focused solely on providing leadership in public policy and education to enable older adults to live with independence and dignity in their communities. In addition to its policy leadership role, NJFA produces the award-winning Aging Insights and presents an annual conference offering development opportunities and best practices for professionals entrusted with caring for seniors.