Bridging the generation gap

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Help children to challenge the stereotypes surrounding older people

Curriculum links

NC: Citizenship 1a, b, e; 2a, b,g, k; 3a, d; 4e, f; 5b, c, d, h; En3 1a; 9b; ICT 1b; 3b

QCA: Citizenship Unit 5 – Living in a diverse world; Unit 7 – Children’s rights – human rights

Many children do not live close to older members of their family, either in terms of physical proximity or regular, sustained interaction. Relationships between young and old can be at best, remote, based as some are, on a lack of mutual understanding, borne out of social estrangement. This article provides activities to help break down stereotypes, and encourage social inclusion across the generations.

Getting started

For both age groups, begin by discussing issues in the ‘Introduction’, such as how children feel they relate and interact with older people. Use a mind-mapping diagram to explain basic vocabulary around age groups: generation, age range, young/youth, middle age/aged, old, elderly and ageing. Ask children what they consider ‘old’ to be in terms of years. Does ageing differ depending on lifestyle and where people live?

Mind-map the positives and negatives of ageing, in terms of relationships between young and old. Some older people may not be able to play sports, but may have more time to talk, or share a book or board game. Do children know of older people who challenge the above stereotypes?

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