JUDY WOODRUFF: A new report due out laterthis week from the National Institute on Early Education Research finds that a number ofstates are struggling to find ways to improve access to high quality pre-kindergarten.
Tonight, we look at a unique approach takenby a preschool in Seattle, Washington.
It's giving children life lessons that go beyondthe classroom, and providing a unique opportunity to seniors.
Special correspondent Cat Wise has our report.
It's part of our Making the Grade series on education that airs every Tuesdays.
MARY MCGOVERN, Senior Citizen: What do yousee? CHILD: A brown bear.
CHILD: A brown bear.
CAT WISE: Mary McGovern is 95 years old, andone of her favorite things to do is read to toddlers.
MARY MCGOVERN: And what is that? A bird.
CHILD: A bird.
MARY MCGOVERN: A bird.
What color is the bird? CHILDREN: Red.
MARY MCGOVERN: Red.
Everybody knows that.
CAT WISE: Luckily for Mary, she doesn't needto go any further than down the hall to find her young friends.
MARY MCGOVERN: Oh, see, look in here is thelittle kids in there.
CAT WISE: Oh, yes.
McGovern lives at Providence Mount St.
Vincent,a nursing home in Seattle, Washington, that also houses a day care for children up to5 years of age.
WOMAN: Thank you, honey.
Thank you very much.
CAT WISE: Every weekday, 500 residents arejoined by 125 children in the facility affectionately called The Mount.
MAN: I see you.
Administrator Charlene Boyd: CHARLENE BOYD, Regional Administrator, ProvidenceMount St.
Vincent: We wanted to create a place for people to come to live, and not come todie.
CAT WISE: So, in 1991, Boyd and other administratorsadded a high-quality preschool to the nursing home and created an intergenerational learningcenter, a community for the very old and very young.
Why is there is this railing here? CHARLENE BOYD: This railing is here not forthe kids, but it's here for residents.
And it's a safety piece for a resident in a wheelchairto push themselves up and to hold on and to bring themselves to a standing position andwatch the children through the window.
CAT WISE: So, they can stand here and lookin? CHARLENE BOYD: They can stand here and lookin.
It's putting high-quality child care in asetting that link old and young together, making the magic between these two ages together,bringing joy to the residents and joy to those young children.
It's just like this magicalformula that happens every day.
WOMAN: Can I get a high-five? There.
He knowshow to do a high-five.
MARY MCGOVERN: Most of them, they're curiousabout me.
Why are you here? I tell them I'm here because, when I was living in my house,when I got too old, I wasn't always walking straight, and sometimes I would fall.
Andif fell, I had to have some help to get up, because I couldn't get off the floor.
I want to hug your baby doll.
MAUREEN MCGOVERN, Daughter of Mary McGovern:I think there are things that both parties take away from the interactions.
It's notlike a lifelong relationship, but just for that moment in time, they're both enjoyingeach other's company, and getting something out of their relationship with that personin that moment.
MARY MCGOVERN: Give me a hug.
CHARLENE BOYD: All of us have common needsto be recognized.
All of us have common needs to be loved, and all of us have common needsto share life together.
And so these children bring life and vibrancy and normalcy.
It's a gift in exposing young families to positive aspects of aging, and it's a giftof also having children seeing frailty, normalcy and that's part of that full circle of life.
(SINGING) CAT WISE: Intergenerational activities canbe spontaneous or planned, like this sing-a-long.
MARIE HOOVER, Providence Mount St.
Vincent:There's 36 visit possible each week, so each classroom, six classrooms, has at least threevisits, up to six visits.
CAT WISE: The director of the center, MarieHoover, says children become comfortable with elderly residents at an early age.
MARIE HOOVER: Whether they're in a wheelchair,or in a walker, or maybe they're hard to understand, or you have to speak louder, it is just aboutwho that individual is, and they adjust.
The kids just don't — they really don't blinkan eye.
This is normal.
This is just who this resident is.
CAT WISE: Ninety-three-year-old Harriet Thompsonjoined this sing-a-long on her way to the dining hall.
HARRIET THOMPSON, Senior Citizen: I usuallylike to go sit down for a while before dinner, but I heard them singing, so in, we went.
CAT WISE: What do you experience internallywhen you're around these children? HARRIET THOMPSON: Happiness, just plain oldhappiness.
You know, yes, it beats anything else.
CHARLENE BOYD: Boredom and loneliness at sortof the plagues of older adults.
There's nothing more delightful than seeing young childrenwith noise, with laughter.
You see the residents, and they hear the sound of the kids comingdown the hall, and it's as though sunlight just came through the window.
HARRIET THOMPSON: I'm a great-great-grandmother,but they're in another town.
I can't hold my own little girl because she's far away.
And so this is what makes me happy.
You get to know them, and watch them, and act sillywith them.
And it's good to feel like you're 3 years old again.
CAT WISE: Teachers see similarities in theways these two very different age groups communicate.
MARIE HOOVER: The brain of a toddler, andas somebody is beginning to have, you know, some signs of dementia, the brains are similar,and their development, or their decline, is similar.
CAT WISE: That was apparent in this art class,where resident John Goss, a retired surgeon, and 5-year-old William Kraynek (ph) teamedup as painting partners.
JOHN GOSS, Senior Citizen: This is a junkbrush? CHILD: A giant.
JOHN GOSS: Giant, yes.
He's operating on my plain, and I'm operatingon his plain, and so we have an attachment.
He helped me, and we were working together.
CHILD: I used blue, and he used blue, andI used green, and he used green.
JOHN GOSS: It's wonderfully fun, because thingscome out of your hand, rather than your mouth.
MARIE HOOVER: The kids are certainly of thatage where this there isn't this sense of, oh, that's weird or something to be scaredof, and I think that's happening on both sides of the age.
CHILD: What's your name? ANNIE CARTER, Senior Citizen: Annie Carter.
CAT WISE: Later the same day, William Kraynekvisited the skilled nursing section of The Mount to help make sandwiches for the homeless.
CHILD: I had three sandwiches.
ANNIE CARTER: Oh, I see.
CAT WISE: Here, William partnered with 92-year-oldAnnie Carter.
ANNIE CARTER: We just talk about our work,just like anybody else on a job.
That's our job, so we have to do the right thing.
WOMAN: This is Alex.
MAN: How you doing? WOMAN: Hi.
CAT WISE: How do the children deal with difficultsituations, like a resident that might be declining or even death? How do the childrendeal with those situations? MARIE HOOVER: Developmentally, it's not reallysomething they can conceptualize.
Even our oldest kids, at 5, kids don't quite get thatwhole death concept.
If the kids bring that up to the teachers,then the teacher's response is going to be, I miss Mary too.
What's your favorite memoryabout what she did? And those are the kinds of things they'regoing to focus in on, as opposed to somebody died.
They're just not quite ready to getthat concept.
CAT WISE: Child care at The Mount is competitivelypriced with similar high quality preschools in the area.
Currently, 400 families are onthe wait list.
Administrators believe The Mount's model canbe replicated across the country, and they expect interest to peak this summer, whena documentary featuring their work called "Present Perfect" is released.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Cat Wise in Seattle.