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GRAND Vol VI, Ed II

GRAND honours and supports grandparents by providing information on resources and businesses for families and a forum for the exchange of ideas and opinions: Connecting Long-Distance • Our Gang & the Good Ol’ Days • Getting Ready for Visiting Grandkids

GRAND honours and supports grandparents by providing information on resources and businesses for families and a forum for the exchange of ideas and opinions: Connecting Long-Distance • Our Gang & the Good Ol’ Days • Getting Ready for Visiting Grandkids

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<strong>Vol</strong>. <strong>VI</strong>, <strong>Ed</strong>. <strong>II</strong><br />

<strong>GRAND</strong><br />

grandmag.ca<br />

Connecting<br />

Long-Distance<br />

Getting Ready<br />

for Visiting<br />

Grandkids<br />

Our Gang & the Good Ol’ Days<br />

grandmag.ca<br />

<strong>Vol</strong>. <strong>VI</strong>, <strong>Ed</strong>. <strong>II</strong> 1


Technology<br />

Connecting Long-Distance<br />

Grandparents and grandchildren often share a very important<br />

emotional bond and both groups can benefit<br />

from a strong relationship. When grandparents and<br />

grandchildren live far apart, it can be difficult for them to<br />

stay connected. Fortunately, technology can help fill the gap<br />

and bridge the distance divide. One way to do this is through<br />

video calling systems like FaceTime, Zoom or other video<br />

conferencing platforms. We have studied this topic extensively<br />

in my research group at Simon Fraser University with<br />

an emphasis on young grandchildren between the ages of 4<br />

and 10. Here are some things that we have learned.<br />

First, video chat is typically loved by both grandparents<br />

and young grandchildren because each gets to see the other.<br />

This should come as no surprise. Yet even with video going,<br />

it can be challenging to keep a child’s attention over a<br />

video call. Unlike a conversation between two adults, young<br />

grandchildren are unlikely to be able to maintain a conversation<br />

beyond 10 to 15 minutes until they get to the pre-teen<br />

years. Research has shown this is better than phone calls,<br />

however, where typically the attention span of children is<br />

far less than video calls.<br />

Because of a child’s short attention, it is important for<br />

grandparents to be able to focus video calls around a child’s<br />

interests. The grandparents who were able to do this in our<br />

studies tended to have longer and more enjoyable conversations.<br />

For example, some grandparents figured out the<br />

names of a child’s friends and could then directly ask about<br />

them. Some learned about their grandchildren’s extra-curricular<br />

activities ahead of time so that they could ask how<br />

things were going. Young grandchildren also enjoy showing<br />

off their toys or things that they create at school. Some<br />

grandparents would ask parents ahead of time about these<br />

objects so they would know which to ask their grandchildren<br />

about when talking with them. Young children are also interested<br />

in learning about things from their grandparents<br />

that are different from their own location. This might be<br />

related to different time zones, the weather, or culture and<br />

heritage.<br />

Some grandparents were in our studies even more creative—for<br />

example, one grandmother learned that her<br />

grandson was interested in armies and camouflage and so<br />

she made him a camouflage blanket and mailed it to him.<br />

When they talked over a video call, they would spend large<br />

amounts of time talking about the blanket and making up<br />

stories about it together.<br />

Having read the above, you might be thinking, this sounds<br />

pretty easy. Well, truth be told, it isn’t, as many grandparents<br />

can likely attest to. There are many social challenges<br />

that make grandparent and grandchild communication over<br />

distance still difficult.<br />

Video calls between young grandparents and grandchildren<br />

can require a lot of parent scaffolding—that is, help<br />

from parents to keep the call going. Parents often have to be<br />

the ones that perform the “camera work” where they hold<br />

a tablet or cell phone and move it to make sure the children<br />

are in view. Some children can do this on their own, but it<br />

can easily be disorienting for grandparents who are watching.<br />

The camera might end up facing the floor, the ceiling<br />

or be an overly close up view of a child’s face. What we have<br />

seen to be immensely valuable are tablet or mobile phone<br />

stands that can be easily set on a table or even the floor,<br />

where the device can be easily angled towards a child’s general<br />

area and left stationary. This reduces the need for parents<br />

to continually perform camera work.<br />

Some grandparents feel apprehensive or self-conscious<br />

about video calling their grandchildren. This is because they<br />

may not know a lot about their grandchildren and are afraid<br />

of saying the “wrong” thing or annoying their grandchildren.<br />

They may not know who their friends are at school in<br />

order to ask about them; they may not about their favourite<br />

activities; or, they may not feel that a child wants to learn<br />

about the grandparents’ cultural heritage. These are all very<br />

2 <strong>GRAND</strong> grandmag.ca


eal issues and sometimes it’s the case that grandparents can<br />

have a tough time learning about their grandchildren in a<br />

deep enough way to sustain conversations or feel like they<br />

are able to really connect over video calls.<br />

Many grandparents talk with a child’s parents to learn<br />

about these things so they know what they could talk about.<br />

Some parents might be too busy though, or the relationship<br />

between a grandparent and their adult child may not be<br />

strong and so asking questions that might help them connect<br />

with their grandchildren is less possible. There is no<br />

easy solution to such problems. Start small. For example, a<br />

grandparent could ask a young child to show them their favourite<br />

toy, explain why they like it so much and show them<br />

what it might do. Or, a grandparent could think about what<br />

is unique to their own location when compared to a child’s.<br />

Is the weather noticeably different outside? Could the grandparent<br />

show a very hot day, a lot of rain or some snow over<br />

the video call? Does the grandparent have different pets that<br />

the grandchild may not have, or vice versa? Could they easily<br />

be shown over FaceTime? These types of acts could be a<br />

starting to point to longer term engagements with a child,<br />

leading to longer conversations and more things to talk<br />

about and show.<br />

Video calling through technologies like FaceTime or Zoom<br />

can be a valuable way for grandparents and young grandchildren<br />

to connect over distance. It isn’t always easy and<br />

grandparents can try to focus conversations around key<br />

topics of interest to children. There should also be thought<br />

over how to reduce the need for lots of camera work—tablet<br />

or mobile phone stands can work very well and placing the<br />

camera in a stationary location is a great first step.<br />

Dr. Carman Neustaedter is a Professor and<br />

Dean of the Faculty of Communication, Art and<br />

Technology at Simon Fraser University. He is<br />

an international expert in telepresence and<br />

technology design for families.<br />

grandmag.ca<br />

<strong>Vol</strong>. <strong>VI</strong>, <strong>Ed</strong>. <strong>II</strong> 3


Grandparenting<br />

Our Gang & the Good Ol’ Days<br />

When I think back to my childhood<br />

in the 1960s, I can’t help but reminisce<br />

about our neighborhood<br />

gang. This gaggle of children was fluid—<br />

it included anyone from our surrounding<br />

blocks who could come out to play on any<br />

given day. Sometimes it swelled in numbers<br />

on weekends and school holidays<br />

and other times it involved only a core<br />

group of us. And despite all the different<br />

personalities and ages it encompassed, it<br />

generally worked.<br />

Back then we were largely responsible<br />

for our own entertainment. When the<br />

weather was warm, we banded together<br />

to ride bikes, sail fleets of paper boats<br />

and play games—Red Rover was a classic!<br />

Even during the long, cold winters,<br />

we still spent a lot of time outdoors, sledding,<br />

skating or building snow forts and<br />

snowmen.<br />

Neighborhoods back in the 60s were<br />

different from those today. Families tended<br />

to stay put so kids grew up with the<br />

same group of friends, forming strong<br />

bonds as a result. It was like being part<br />

of a big extended family. Kids ran freely<br />

without much parental supervision even<br />

at a young age as they were always accompanied<br />

by older siblings.<br />

In my hometown, we had a four- or<br />

five-block radius where we roamed and<br />

played. We also had the added benefit of<br />

living directly across from a park that<br />

spanned an entire city block, so that<br />

alone provided ample space to play.<br />

Most mothers back then were stay-athome<br />

moms as it was entirely possible<br />

for a family to live comfortably on only<br />

one income. So children came home after<br />

school, they didn’t have to attend afterschool<br />

care. And structured activities/<br />

lessons were rare; we simply created our<br />

own fun. The odd one of us may have<br />

taken music lessons or perhaps a few<br />

swimming lessons, but the majority of us<br />

learned things the hard way—through a<br />

combination of trial and error and stubborn<br />

determination, with an older sibling<br />

most likely egging you on.<br />

Being part of this gang gave all of<br />

us free reign in each other’s yards and<br />

homes: we wandered in and out of whoever’s<br />

house was closest to go to the bathroom,<br />

we knew which mom baked the<br />

best cookies, and we knew which parent<br />

(or grandparent) would give us change to<br />

buy penny candy at the corner store.<br />

And what would a neighborhood gang<br />

be without the classic neighborhood<br />

bully? We certainly had ours. He was<br />

the older sibling of some our playmates<br />

and he was known far and wide in the<br />

neighborhood as trouble with a capital<br />

“T.” He actually seemed to relish his<br />

reputation, wearing it almost like a badge<br />

of honour. He teased relentlessly, interrupted<br />

or ruined our games and wreaked<br />

havoc on anything we constructed. And<br />

I’m afraid that in our collective fear, we<br />

made no attempt to include him in our<br />

play; in fact, we dutifully avoided him<br />

like the plague. With hindsight, I am sure<br />

we only exacerbated the problem. I have<br />

to wonder if his interactions, however<br />

4 <strong>GRAND</strong> grandmag.ca


negative, were merely his misguided attempts<br />

at inclusion.<br />

I distinctly remember one summer<br />

when the rumor mill identified this bully<br />

as the likely culprit who had pilfered an<br />

apple from our back yard apple tree. And<br />

this was no ordinary apple. It was one<br />

that had grown to gigantic proportions,<br />

and it was quite simply my father’s pride<br />

and joy. He forbade any of us to pick it.<br />

If there was a Guinness Book record<br />

for the largest apple, this one certainly<br />

would have rivalled it. It was the talk<br />

of the neighborhood. We would stand<br />

underneath that apple tree, and “oohhh”<br />

and “ahhh” just gazing upwards through<br />

the foliage. Until one day, later in the<br />

fall, that marvelous apply simply disappeared.<br />

A quick investigation proved it<br />

hadn’t grown too heavy as it wasn’t found<br />

at the base of the tree. Well, you can<br />

imagine my father’s ire. Alas, there was<br />

no proof, so the apple bandit was never<br />

caught, much to my father’s dismay, but<br />

he certainly blamed you know who.<br />

Bullies aside, it saddens me that many<br />

children today do not have the opportunity<br />

to experience being part of a neighborhood<br />

gang. Neighborhoods seem to be<br />

different nowadays, I imagine because of<br />

the mobility of families and the simple<br />

fact that many households have two<br />

working parents.<br />

Our neighborhood gang served a purpose—Friendship.<br />

Safety. Belonging.<br />

Loyalty. Within its familiar confines, we<br />

learned the give and take of relationships,<br />

how to negotiate with others, the<br />

art of compromise and the importance<br />

of sharing and being kind with one another.<br />

It was like a mini-microcosm that<br />

prepared us for the wider world. Looking<br />

back, it easily brings to mind some of my<br />

fondest childhood memories.<br />

Susan Gnucci is a local<br />

author and a proud “nonna”<br />

to two young grandsons.<br />

She enjoys sharing her<br />

experiences as a<br />

grandparent.<br />

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<strong>Vol</strong>. <strong>VI</strong>, <strong>Ed</strong>. <strong>II</strong> 5


Grandparenting<br />

Getting Ready for Visiting Grandkids<br />

There’s nothing like having your<br />

grandkids come over for a visit—especially<br />

when you have everything<br />

you need on hand. This list is best suited<br />

to grandchildren ages 2–5, but may be<br />

adapted to suit other ages.<br />

1. A Car Seat<br />

It is now recommended to have children<br />

in a car seat or booster seat until<br />

they are about nine years old, depending<br />

on their weight and height. Babies<br />

should stay rear-facing until one year,<br />

but it is safest for toddler and preschoolers<br />

to remain in a rear-facing car seat<br />

for as long as possible. (bcaa.com/community/child-car-seat-safety).<br />

Make<br />

sure you have an appropriate car seat<br />

and know how to install and use it.<br />

2. A Yes-Zone<br />

Grandparents’ houses are good places<br />

for children to learn how others live,<br />

and how to behave in a home that is not<br />

their own. It is a good idea to set boundaries<br />

about what kids can touch, where<br />

to put their shoes and which rooms they<br />

can go into. But don’t forget to designate<br />

a yes-zone: part of your home where<br />

nothing is off-limits. When the adults<br />

can relax, the kids have more fun and<br />

you can all work on developing a real<br />

and meaningful relationship!<br />

3. Outdoor Time<br />

One of the best ways to deal with kids<br />

who are getting a little grumpy is to take<br />

them outdoors. But do a little reconnoitering<br />

beforehand. Find the best parks,<br />

beaches and playgrounds near you. If<br />

Eva Bild is a childbirth, parenting<br />

and lactation educator and doula<br />

trainer. She has been working<br />

with new families since<br />

1992. Eva is founder of the<br />

Mothering Touch Centre. She is the mother of<br />

three wonderful adults, but most excitingly,<br />

she is now a grandmother! evabild.ca<br />

you are living in the home where you<br />

brought up your kids, you may know<br />

some of those destinations. But some<br />

may have changed in the last 30 years!<br />

And if you are living in a new place, you<br />

will need to start from scratch. Chat<br />

with some new parents in your neighbourhood<br />

to get their recommendations.<br />

4. Bath Time<br />

The other best way to cheer up a<br />

grumpy child is to put them in water. If<br />

you can’t get to a pool, a bath with new<br />

bath toys, or just some plastic containers<br />

and scoops can be really fun! Add colour<br />

with a couple drops of food colouring.<br />

Or check out bath crayons.<br />

5. Snacks<br />

Check with your grandchildren’s parents<br />

about what foods they might not<br />

be allowed or are allergic to. And then,<br />

within those boundaries, stock up on<br />

snacks. Plan for some pre-meal fresh<br />

fruit and veggies then when dinner is<br />

served, the kids will have already eaten<br />

their vegetables!<br />

6. Cooking and Baking<br />

Plan a simple baking project. Buy<br />

a little apron, perhaps a small rolling<br />

pin, some fun cookie cutters. Be aware<br />

that for preschoolers, cooking is a rich<br />

sensory process. They need to feel, grab,<br />

taste, smell and smear everything! It’s<br />

not going to be tidy, so relax and explore<br />

with your grandchild. Smell the cinnamon,<br />

taste the sugar and the salt and<br />

the baking powder (yuck!). Focus on the<br />

process, and don’t worry too much about<br />

the product. Enjoy!<br />

7. Toys<br />

You may be tempted to get a whole<br />

bunch of toys to amuse your grandchildren<br />

while they are visiting. Be careful!<br />

A few toys go a long way. And they<br />

make less mess. Building toys (blocks,<br />

Lego, Duplo) are very versatile and fun<br />

for all ages. Puzzles are great, but make<br />

sure they are age-appropriate and not<br />

too frustrating. Think about toys that<br />

encourage interaction and playing together.<br />

Having a big toy bin will make<br />

clean-up easy.<br />

8. Gardening<br />

If you like gardening, and have a garden,<br />

think about how you can share that<br />

pleasure with your grandkids. Can you<br />

give them a little spot they can dig in? A<br />

few seeds to “plant?” A little apron, some<br />

tiny gardening gloves, a small trowel<br />

and bucket. Make sure the tools are<br />

“real.” Plastic tools are often disappointing.<br />

My children’s grandmother taught<br />

them a lot about the names of flowers<br />

and plants, and weeds too. That’s a way<br />

of sharing a love of plants even if you<br />

don’t have a garden.<br />

9. Outings<br />

Grandparents are important in teaching<br />

children about their culture and<br />

heritage. Taking your grandchildren<br />

to museums, community festivals and<br />

events, concerts and movies is a great<br />

way to do that. Don’t expect too much of<br />

the kids’ attention span though. Be prepared<br />

with a lot of snacks and a really<br />

good attitude yourself! And be prepared<br />

to bail and go home if it just doesn’t<br />

seem like the right day for this outing.<br />

Try again next year!<br />

10. Downtime<br />

When your grandchildren come to<br />

visit, things can get intense. There may<br />

be too many people, too many family<br />

events, too many outings. Make sure<br />

there is a quiet time every day, when<br />

you and your grandchild can cuddle and<br />

read books or watch a movie. With any<br />

luck, that will turn into a nap! What a<br />

delight!<br />

If there have been several high-energy,<br />

event-filled days in a row, declare a<br />

hang-out day. Stay home. Wear pyjamas.<br />

Eat cereal. Make playdough. (thebestideasforkids.com/playdough-recipe)<br />

Build a blanket fort. Those memories are<br />

golden!<br />

6 <strong>GRAND</strong> grandmag.ca


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grandmag.ca<br />

<strong>Vol</strong>. <strong>VI</strong>, <strong>Ed</strong>. <strong>II</strong> 7


Gone are the days of rocking chairs and<br />

recliners. Today’s grandparents are more<br />

likely to be rock climbing or going for a run<br />

than they are to be rocking or reclining.<br />

<strong>Vol</strong>. <strong>VI</strong>, <strong>Ed</strong>. <strong>II</strong><br />

RAND<br />

grandmag.ca<br />

Connecting<br />

Long-Distance<br />

Getting Ready<br />

for Visiting<br />

Grandkids<br />

Our Gang & the Good Ol’ Days<br />

Jim Schneider Publisher<br />

publisher@islandparent.ca<br />

Sue Fast <strong>Ed</strong>itor<br />

editor@islandparent.ca<br />

Kristine Wickheim Account Manager<br />

kristine@islandparent.ca<br />

RaeLeigh Buchanan Account Manager<br />

raeleigh@islandparent.ca<br />

<strong>GRAND</strong>, published by Island Parent Group Enterprises Ltd., is a digital<br />

publication that honours and supports grandparents by providing<br />

information on resources and businesses for families and a forum<br />

for the exchange of ideas and opinions. Views expressed are not<br />

necessarily those of the publisher. No material herein may be<br />

reproduced without the permission of the publisher.<br />

518 Caselton Place, Victoria, BC V8Z 7Y5<br />

250-388-6905 grandmag.ca<br />

A proud member of<br />

BC<br />

We’re an active and diverse group—an engaged,<br />

evolving and powerful force. We’re<br />

mentors, nurturers, keepers of secrets.<br />

We’re caregivers, child care providers,<br />

dessert-before-dinner defenders. We’re<br />

historians, spiritual guides and the holders<br />

of family stories.<br />

<strong>GRAND</strong> celebrates who you are as a grandparent<br />

and who you are as an individual.<br />

You love spending time with your grandchildren<br />

and you’re happy in your other<br />

roles: at work, in the community and on<br />

your own. <strong>GRAND</strong> acknowledges that you<br />

are not “one or the other”—an “either/or”<br />

version of yourself—you are many different<br />

things to many different people. And to<br />

yourself.<br />

With an Island perspective that speaks<br />

to an international readership, <strong>GRAND</strong> is<br />

the source for on-the-go grandparents of<br />

up-to-the-minute and thought-provoking<br />

information and ideas—on everything from<br />

having fun, staying fit and things to do to<br />

travel, leisure, health and technology. Think<br />

of <strong>GRAND</strong> as a trusted friend who happily<br />

shares those “senior moments” (in the<br />

best sense of the words!) and keeps you<br />

informed and connected to the issues and<br />

ideas that really matter. After reading an<br />

issue of <strong>GRAND</strong>, you should feel inspired,<br />

up-to-date and informed.<br />

We’re here for you: from helping you<br />

figure out where you fit in to tackling your<br />

most perplexing questions, sharing your<br />

greatest discoveries and celebrating your<br />

deepest joys.<br />

<strong>GRAND</strong> features articles on topics ranging<br />

from the importance of storytelling,<br />

cooking with your grandkids and community<br />

superheroes, to photographing your<br />

grandkids, gift-giving and grandparenting<br />

from afar. There are ideas and inspiration<br />

to help keep you in-the-know and connected,<br />

there’s a guide to investing in your<br />

grandchildren’s future and there’s tech<br />

support that will help you face your fears<br />

and embrace the cloud.<br />

<strong>GRAND</strong> is as diverse and engaged as you<br />

are. Together, we’re a powerful and positive<br />

force—in our grandchildren’s lives and<br />

in our communities.<br />

8 <strong>GRAND</strong> grandmag.ca


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