By Quynh Nguyen, Early Elementary Classroom Teacher
The following is from a New York Times article from March 2020: “Thousands of nursing homes and assisted-living centers across the United States are becoming islands of isolation as health care administrators take unprecedented steps to lock them down, hoping to protect some of the nation’s most vulnerable residents from the threat posed by the coronavirus.” This pandemic has been hard on all of us. We have narrowed down our physical social circles to stay safe and healthy. The isolation has taken its toll on our world. Our elders face a period of not knowing when they will physically be able to see their loved ones again.
We should all try to reach out and make sure that our elders know that they are loved and they are on our minds. My daughter’s grandparents live in Minnesota and New Hampshire. We made sure to let them know that they can video chat with us anytime. We have all benefited from connecting this way.
Another way that we have reached out is snail mail. I don’t know about you, but my mother loves receiving mail. The incredibly adorable squeal as she tells me that she has received our postcard is worth the effort. This is a great way to connect. The one thing to remember is the purpose of this task: connecting with our elders. Focus on your child’s strengths and help them fill in the rest. If your child is able to come up with many ideas verbally and expresses that it is hard for them to write it all on paper, help them out with dictation. If they prefer to spend more of their time creating a work of art, follow that passion. The number of words on the page will vary depending on their writing ability and age. For example, our latest postcard to grandma featured dot marker art from my one-year-old. I handwrote, “Dear grandma, I miss eating lunch with you. I can’t wait to see you on Zoom. Love, Beth.”
Sometimes I use a photo postcard app called Ink Cards. Through this app, I can select photos on the front side and type a note on the back. You pay the app to print and send your postcard. You can snap a picture of your child doing something they want to show off or include a picture of their art. This allows for 3D art such as a Lego tower to be appreciated.
In addition to reaching out to family members, consider writing to the nursing homes and assisted-living centers as well. Many have publicly made a request asking for letters and pen-pals.
Check out this nifty guide from the Girl Scouts called, “Tips for Writing Letters to Seniors and Caretakers”