Ensure inter-generational integration is not just physical

The notion of using public facilities for "inter-generational integration", a combination of childcare, student care and eldercare centre, needs deeper consideration beyond just having them in close physical proximity ("HDB focus on couples, needy and elderly folk"; Jan 22).

What are the pros and cons of such an integration? Is it in the best interest of pre-schoolers? Or is it another adult's perceived socio-emotional gain for our young generation?

Close physical proximity of these centres does not necessarily translate into socio-moral gain for our younger generation, in terms of "respect" for the elderly.

Young children develop values of "respect" and "kindness" by watching more competent role models demonstrating acts of care and concern in sharing and helping others. If we just have centres merely co-existing side by side, without a consistent and conscious effort to ensure children are given opportunities to observe and imitate acts of kindness and respect on a regular basis in natural settings, then, the notion of "inter-generational integration" is, at best, a physical integration.

The pre-school curriculum needs to ensure practical and meaningful integration of multi-generational activities and not merely a tourist approach of a one-time visit to an eldercare centre. 

Rebecca Chan (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2016, with the headline 'Ensure inter-generational integration is not just physical'. Print Edition | Subscribe