Ageing Well Award
Val and John Snare
Grandparents, John and Val Snare, have gone back to school so they could help their grandsons with lockdown learning. Both in their seventies, they help their widowed son look after Dylan and Luke, on hand for school runs and trips to the park, they were also keen to support them with their learning. When the pandemic forced schools to close, John and Val supported the boys with homeschooling when their son was working shifts. Sharing the responsibilities, John helped his older grandson who was eight at the time while Val supported the three-year-old. “I was baffled by the terminology and the way they were doing things in maths and phonics. I love numbers but I do it my way – and it’s not how they do it at school these days. Something had to change and that had to be me!” said John.
Meanwhile Val was grappling with phonics. “They were just alien to me. I haven’t done any schoolwork for fifty years!” So, when a course offering parents and carers the chance to learn how to help a child with maths, both jumped at the chance. “The leaflets came home with the boys in their schoolbags, and we thought we’d give it a go,” said Val. Grasping the new maths methodology, they then signed up for two further courses – another in maths and one in
English. Completing an Agored Cymru Essential Skills for Work and Life Accreditation, they went on to achieve two further accreditations last term. “We don’t have arguments about schoolwork anymore. We can discuss it better and we talk in their language. There’s no shouting, we are more patient and it’s altogether more pleasurable. We want to see them do well and we want to do what we can to help,” said John.
Both are now looking to enrol on a course to help the children with writing. John is keen to undertake refreshers in more advanced maths so that he can keep supporting his grandsons as they get older. Val has also volunteered her skills at Dylan and Luke’s school and will be helping young children learn how to read. Liz James, Essential Skills Tutor at Merthyr College, working in partnership with Merthyr Tydfil Council Adult Learning, nominated the grandparents. She says: “John and Val are both coming to the end of their careers and weren’t looking to upskill, but they really wanted to help their grandchildren. They were a little apprehensive at first, especially about the prospect of online learning, but
now you just can’t stop them!”