The delight on the faces of the residents was just beautiful. Dad has always had a lot to do with his grandkids and your pupils really gave him the boost he needed. He was singing along with the kids as well.
- Sue Black, daughter of a Summerset at Karaka resident
An excited and enthusiastic visit to the Summerset at Karaka Residential Home was a delightful way for ACG Strathallan Year 1 students to engage with a welcoming group of elder locals and begin to connect with the wider community.
These animated excursions are annual events for the school’s youngest scholars and are eagerly anticipated by both students and Summerset residents alike.
“We can read and play with them,” says five-year-old student, Martin.
“I like the residents and I love reading to them, it makes me feel happy,” echoes six-year-old Isla.
The meetings are not only a novel and enjoyable experience for the students, but also provide teaching staff with a valuable tool to help instil the school’s values of pride, integrity, respect and compassion.
“Our Year 1 children are given the opportunity to walk to Summerset Residential Home in a series of visits,” explains ACG Strathallan Junior Dean, Mrs Denise Campbell. “They read stories, play games, sing and talk with the residents while learning how to show compassion and kindness.”
Speaking with the residents offers the children a secure and relaxed way to understand and grow empathy, consideration and thoughtfulness towards others. It encourages youngsters to develop bravery when they encounter new situations, to feel comfortable when introducing themselves and to share their newly gained reading skills and learning activities.
“During the children’s first visit they introduce themselves to the residents and read their story books to them. The students were absolutely thrilled to be involved and had practiced introducing themselves to others in preparation,” says Mrs Campbell. “Additionally, as a part of the recent trip, the students rehearsed and presented a number of songs to the residents.”
“In the second visit the children have a box of school materials such as maths and Nimble Fingers (fine motor skills) equipment. They discuss and explain the contents of the box to the residents, then they use the equipment together.”
With a focus on listening, conversation and thinking of others, these exchanges allow students to improve their communication and relationship building skills as well.
“I think we need to help the residents, so they are okay,” comments five-year-old Abby.
“I like to care about the residents and treat them with respect,” chimes in her fellow classmate, Alexa.
“We need to show them respect and compassion,” adds five-year-old Serey.
The encounters were a huge success and while the Year 1 students undoubtedly gain a great deal from the experience, the Summerset residents clearly reciprocate in kind.
Sue Black, whose father has recently joined the Summerset community, commented, “The delight on the faces of the residents was just beautiful. Dad has always had a lot to do with his grandkids and your pupils really gave him the boost that he needed. He was singing along with the kids as well. They were all beautifully behaved and the teachers were awesome. I know Dad is looking forward to the next visit.”