A grand time

Spending time alone with grandkids is a great way to get to know them better. King Features (King Features / The Spokesman-Review)
Spending time alone with grandkids is a great way to get to know them better. King Features (King Features / The Spokesman-Review)

With Grandparents Day coming up on Sept. 13, I checked in with some cool grandparents to find out what makes moments with their grandkids extra special.

I chatted with caring grandparents far and wide on planes and trains and in bustling park playgrounds, and I discovered that a common theme to “Grandparenting 101” might best be called “Grandparenting one-on-one.”

Seventy-year-old Frank Copple, grandfather of three young, active boys, said that to really get to know the personalities, interests and characteristics of his grandsons, he carves out time to do an activity with each individually.

“Each child is unique, and it’s gratifying and fun to encourage their talents one on one, whether we go fishing, take a walk around the neighborhood observing sights and sounds, or do a little project together,” he said.

“Those are the times when we really connect.”

Energetic grandmother Betsy Peak calls her together time with 10-year-old granddaughter Madeline “Maddi Club Day.”

“I pick her up, and we do whatever we want that day,” says Betsy. “You never know where our adventures will lead us. When she was young, one of our favorite outings was to the Humane Society, which eventually resulted in adopting a wonderful dog named Allie.”

If you are a grandparent, start your own grandkid club for one-on-one time together. And remember, wherever you go and whatever you do on your club day will be special because you shared the memory together.

Here are free activities you can enjoy this fall:

•If you are a sports fan, grab a mitt and ball, and play catch. Lead up to the World Series in October with older grandkids by discussing and following stats and scores in the newspaper and online.

•If you are a gardener, pick a pretty autumn bouquet of your last flowers, and harvest your vegetables. Talk about what you can plant in the garden together next spring.

•If you like nature walks, go for a hike in a nearby nature preserve to observe the changing leaves, walk through a botanical garden or toss stones in a lake or river.

Parenting tip: Celebrate Grandparents Day by helping your kids make a greeting card or frame a special photo for their grandparents.

Donna Erickson is the author of several books about family activities and host of a public television series. See more at www.donnasday.com

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