3 November 2023

Intergenerational Preschool brings the Riverina's young and old together

| Chris Roe
Start the conversation
Temora Library's Intergenerational Preschool is bringing the community together.

Temora Library’s Intergenerational Preschool is bringing the community together. Photo: Temora Shire Library.

Temora Library is on a mission to bridge the generations and is bringing local kids and the elderly together to share the joy of reading.

Intergenerational Preschool is run every three weeks and connects children from A Dragon’s Tale Early Education Centre with residents of Greenstone Lodge.

Many Australians are now familiar with the idea thanks to the popular ABC series Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, and Temora librarian Wendy Manning said the educational program had benefited old and young alike.

“We were a bit concerned when we kicked off in that first week that it might be a bit hectic, but the kids were super well behaved and we had a heap of comments from the little ones, saying that they can’t wait to go back again,” she said with a laugh.

READ ALSO ‘Captured’ Minns Government not serious about pokies reform, says anti-gambling advocate

“We had one gentleman from the lodge say that it was an ‘out of this world experience’ and I was speaking to a couple of the other residents and asked how they were going and they said, ‘Yeah, really good, but we’ve been looking forward to seeing the kids again!’

“I think it’s just something really different for them to engage with people outside the other residents and they’re not only getting that interaction with the kids, but also the adults from the library and the preschool.”

The kids and the residents play sports together batting balloons backwards and forwards.

The kids and the residents play sports together batting balloons backwards and forwards. Photo: Temora Shire Library.

The innovative program was funded through a grant from National Backyard Cricket which supports regional youth and libraries, and Wendy said it was something the library had been keen to trial for some time.

“One of our part-time staff members is actually qualified in early childhood education and she came to me one day and said, ‘Hey, I want to do intergenerational preschool’ and we’d been sitting on the idea for a few years but didn’t know where to start, so it was a big yes from us,” she said.

“So when the funding opportunity came up, we applied to National Backyard Cricket and they gave us the money to cover the buses to get the kids to and from the lodge.”

The preschoolers and their 'elderly friends' enjoy reading together.

The preschoolers and their ‘elderly friends’ enjoy reading together. Photo: Temora Shire Library.

The program aims to enhance social skills and connection and gets the kids and the residents moving and playing games and reading and sharing stories.

“We pair the kids up every three weeks with the same partner and run through a set routine of activities,” Wendy explained.

“We start off with a name game so that everybody can get to learn people’s names and we have a session based around sports where we’ll get them to keep balloons up in the air or things like beanbag tossing and footy in the bucket.

“And then at the end of the program we always run a shared reading session with books we’ve brought from the library and the kids have that shared time with their elderly friend.”

READ ALSO Wagga and Griffith need a giant waterslide more than a new cultural arts hub

Intergenerational preschool programs have been growing in popularity and the wellbeing benefits across generations have been well documented.

“We find that the regularity of doing it every three weeks definitely helps with early literacy and bringing those relationships together,” Wendy said.

“Obviously funding is limited and the main expense is just the transport, but we’re hoping to continue the program through next year and hopefully another round of funding will have reopened by then.”

You can keep an eye on what Temora Library is up to and how Intergenerational Preschool is going here.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Riverina news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riverina stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.