This past week, Wilmington Montessori School celebrated its annual Grandfriends’ Day. The mission of Grandfriends’ Day is to unite two very important sectors of our community- the elders and our youth- the wisdom and appreciation of the past blended with the dynamism and creativity of our future. It was a delight to watch the prideful procession of smiles as our grandfriends visited their grandchildren’s classrooms and school environment.
This special occasion offers grandfriends a glance into their grandchild’s daily school life at Wilmington Montessori. It also provides opportunities to meet the student’s classmates and teachers, and for the grandchildren to comfortably demonstrate some of their discoveries and achievements to their grandfriends. While watching the many interactions, I observed the comfort and ease in which the grandfriends and grandchildren related. According to Dr. Arthur Kornhaber, president of the Foundation for Grandparenting and author of several books on the subject including The Grandparent Guide (McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Books, 2002), regardless of age, children thrive in environments where they are nurtured and loved. They learn about the world around them when those closest to them join in their play, interests and exploration. Grandparents often have the opportunity to spend more relaxed time with children. And they can enjoy children for who they are at the moment. In fact, he remarks that the grandparent/grandchild relationship is an "illuminating" relationship comprised of the purest forms of human love: unconditional, nonjudgmental and freely given simply because a person exists. These ideas were reflected in comments our children shared with me when I asked what makes a grandfriend special to you; they play games, they take me places, they love you.
As I reflected upon my observations of Grandfriends’ Day and the findings of Dr. Kornhaber, I was inspired by the nurturing, respectful, and supportive nature of Wilmington Montessori School. This year’s Grandfriend event certainly re-affirmed the importance of nurturing and respect in the development and well-being of children. As Dr. Maria Montessori once said, “Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.”