WHO ARE TODAY’S GRANDPARENTS?
In 2014, one out of every four Americans is a grandparent. By 2020 the number of grandparents is projected to grow to 80 million. In fact, the average age a person becomes a grandparent in the US today is 50. Grandparents have the time, desire, resources and the passion to leave a legacy for the next generation.
Grandparents have lived through so many life changes, They have the commitment and passion to pass Jewish values onto their grandchildren. Plus, when grandparents know what their grandchildren are learning in religious school, they can talk about Jewish values in action in the family.
WHY HAVE A GRANDPARENT PROGRAM?
- Grandparents volunteer! For synagogue events, classroom Seders, as field trip chaperones and more, grandparents are a great resource.
- No longer will grandparents ask “what are you learning at the school in the Synagogue?” but rather deeper questions to start conversations about the content, ideas and values behind what they are learning.
- Grandparents of all religions can attend and benefit from the program.
- Evaluation and feedback will show how connection via the child’s religious school world will bring families closer across the generations.
- Engaged grandparents are involved in the lives of their grandchildren.
- Intergenerational connections promote good mental health.
WHAT CAN THE SCHOOL DO TO CREATE A GRANDPARENT PROGRAM?
- Send out news by email each week of what the children are learning.
- Create a multi-age Grandparent Connection Newsletter Club for students to write and produce a monthly newsletter for grandparents.
- Share reading lists and study texts for discussion with grandparents outside of school.
- Assign values topics such as a kindness or generosity. Ask students to interview their grandparents and write a report, or to have a discussion and share a summary wiht the class.
- Host a Grandparent/Grandchild Club–get together approximately once a month, have an activity, enjoy a snack together, do a social action project.
- Host a Grandparent Day during the school year.
WHERE MIGHT PROGRAMS TAKE PLACE?
Programs can be organized by the school or by the families. Furthermore, they can take place at the synagogue, in homes or in the community, with special events and social action activities. Design you program to meet the needs and interests of your member families.
It is through this process that Jewish knowledge, wisdom and life experiences are shared and Jewish identity is enriched, through a family culture of teaching and learning for grandchildren, parents and grandparents.
– Jerry Witkovsky
HOW DO YOU GET STARTED?
To find out about starting a Grandparent Connection program at your religious school, fill out the contact form or just give us a call.
Jerry Witkovsky, MSW
jwotkovsky (at) att.net
Jerry is a grandparenting activist and author of the award-winning book The Grandest Love: Inspiring the Grandparent-Grandchild Connection. He has set up grandparent programs in secular and religious schools in Chicagoland, New York and LA. A grandfather to six, ages teen to adult (and one great grandson, age 2) he is a beloved mentor to thousands of individuals and generations of families, thanks to 47 years of professional leadership, 18 of them as general director of the Jewish Community Centers of Chicago.
The Grandparent Connection School Kit (available on Amazon) was created by Jerry Witkovsky, MSW.
Thanks to Sharon Morton of Grandparents for Social Action for this great list of ideas for things to do in religious schools.