This qualitative, exploratory study explores the experience of intergenerational relationships between community-dwelling older adults and children age 2-5 years at Concordia’s P’tits Profs Centre de la Petite Enfance (CPE). The CPE has recently begun to implement a program whereby older adults participate on a weekly basis in the CPE, engaging in activities with the children (e.g., playing games, creating art, having meals and/or snacks, playing outdoors, reading, etc.).
Our research asks the following questions: How do children and older adults experience intergenerational relationships that have been developed in an intergenerational program at Les P’tit Profs CPE? How do these intergenerational relationships contribute to a sense of belonging and inclusion for the children and the older adults? What are the benefits and challenges of such an intergenerational program, from the perspective of 3 groups: the children, the CPE educators, and the older adults who have volunteered to participate in the program. How have the communication practices of all three groups influenced the experience of the intergenerational program?
Multiple methods will be used in this study including: observations of the intergenerational interactions; interviews and biweekly self-reflections with the older adults; focus groups with the educators; and drawings with the children.
Existing literature identifies numerous benefits to intergenerational programs, including enhanced learning opportunities, decreased ageism (lessened stereotypes of the ‘other’ generation), enhanced self-worth and perceived competence. Our research, therefore, probes an unexplored area by including children age 2-5 years who are currently enrolled in Concordia’s Les P’tits Profs CPE child care centre who have rarely been included in previous research.