The concept is simple. Invite some children and their grandparents, throw them in a room with lots of books and educational activities and let them go at it.
There is a lot more to Grand Times at the museum than that, but that’s how it got started Tuesday, with grandparents getting some one-on-one time with their grandchildren, connecting with them as they explored books together and created a little flower pot.
Naomi Ludington, literacy co-ordinator for the South Okanagan, was pleased with the turnout for this first event, which continues through April and May at the Penticton Museum and Archives. Grand Times, she said, is a partnership between Literacy Now, Penticton and District Community Resources Society, Service Canada and the museum.
It was created she said, to fill a perceived gap in early learning services in the community. While there are programs like Strongstart available, she said, this program focuses solely on grandparents caring for their grandchildren. Some might feel uncomfortable with the younger parents at Strongstart and other centres and may need help accessing supports within the community, or they may simply enjoy sharing their experiences with others.
This gives them a safe comfortable environment to bring their grandchildren to, because they know it will just be other grandparents, said Ludington, adding there are educational resources for the grandchild as well as the grandparent, so they can provide a program for their younger ones. The social aspect, however, is very important as well.
“I don’t know many other grandparents,” said Coleen Boring, who was attending the event with her granddaughter Aiyana. They also attend a Strongstart centre together, she said, but this gave her a chance to interact with others grandparents who, like her, have part or full-time care of their grandchild.
Grand Times starts out with the group activities and then after a provided lunch, the kids go off for activities in the museum and the grandparents get some free time to socialize with their peers.
Museum curator Peter Ord said they are happy to be hosting the program. It gives them a chance, he said, to connect with two different groups that might not visit the museum often. He’s also planning historical information sessions for the grandparents, while the kids are doing their own, age-appropriate activities.
Grand Times is a free program, running from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays at the museum. It’s open to grandparents and other next-generation caregivers who are raising preschool-aged children. Contact Naomi at 250-462-0636 or email@example.com to reserve a space.