Grandparents Teach, Too/Planning visit times helps everyone


Professional certified day care centers use research and best practices information to schedule children’s days. Families and extended families like grandparents can use this information for success, too.

Children have a basic body clock, needs and rhythm at all ages. They need to be loved, educated, nutritiously fed, be clean, have fun, read to and talked with. They need enough sleep, plus alternating active and quiet times daily.

When there is misbehavior, usually there is an above need. If adults make a checklist schedule with needs in mind, they can manage child care, reduce stress and teach expectations. Here is a sample. For a longer day, simply rewind and repeat.


When young children are coming for care or a little break for parents, you can examine your time. What jobs must be done in your usual routine? How can you blend those with children’s needs so you won’t feel overwhelmed? What quiet and active playtime activities help your young children? What reasonable behavior expectations do you have? What are the parents’ rules?

After consulting the parents and the basic kids’ needs, list a few goals on your checklist including being nice to each other and taking turns. You can sit down with the grandkids to discuss the action plan checklist and read the columns together. They can add ideas of quiet and active activities.

Time Together

During your time together add some praise, smiles, hugs or fist bumps for jobs well done. Since you are changing varied activities often and meeting needs like hunger, boredom and rest, you are more likely to nip any misbehavior in the bud.

Stove timers come in handy. You can set the timer for 20 minutes “in time” with the kids. They get complete attention-no phone, radio, TV or videos. Adults can get on the floor to play and everyone gets some exercise.

When the timer goes off the children now have a choice of a quiet activity to play by themselves while Grandma does jobs she needs to do for about 20 minutes. She can check on them, halfway through add a nutritious snack and praise them to insure more success. When the timer goes off look at the checklist together, check off, and celebrate.

Ignore a little imperfection. Catch children being even a little bit good and praise when there are polite words and evidence of appropriate behavior.

It’s time now for about 20 minutes of an energetic activity or a walk. Review behavior expectations first. Then eat, read, everyone rests and checks off the list.

Does this preparation always insure that activities go smoothly? No, but checklists, stated expectations and best practices usually help reduce everyone’s stress. For many activity ideas see and Through the Seasons, live and pod casts.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Grandparents Teach, Too is a non-profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. The writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers. Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan, the U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, Northern Michigan School of Education, the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum and the Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education.