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Reading Grandmas and Grandpas

Want to engage the community & improve reading literacy?

Reading Grandmas and Grandpas visit schools to help students struggling with reading. During the reading session, the student gets positive reinforcement and the undivided attention of a trained Reading Grandma or Grandpa.

HundrED 2018


HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED 2018

Finland 100

Web presence






March 2017
I learnt kind of a lot from grandma. I learnt what's a smell and what's a scent – a lot of new words.

About the innovation

What is Reading Grandmas and Grandpas?

Reading is one of the most fundamental life skills. Reading proficiency encompasses a range of different aspects, with comprehension and technical reading skills at its core.

Many countries have witnessed a decline in children's comprehensive reading skills. This should be addressed in and outside of school. Poor reading skills negatively impact a child's school success andeducation choices,can limit career options or even cause exclusion from working life.

Globalization and international mobilization have increased the number of students from immigrant backgrounds. For these students, learning the language can play a crucial role in their schoolwork, sense of inclusion in the school and integration into society.

One solution to the issue of declining reading skills is to recruit and trainReading Grandmas and Grandpas, whosupport students struggling with reading.This model presents a framework to support reading skills from an early age with senior support.

Trained Reading Grandmas and Grandpas are happy to help teachers and improve students' reading skills,visiting schools for half a lesson to read with the children. During these sessions children and seniors read and discuss a variety of books, including both fiction and nonfiction.

The sessions are designed mainly for those struggling the most and in need of additional support.Reading Grandmas and Grandpas are highly trained in researched reading techniques relating to reading fluency and learning new vocabulary. During these sessions, the Reading Grandmas and Grandpas give their undivided attention to the child, providing encouragement and perhaps even sparking a life long interest in reading.

This innovation has been adopted by over 60 schools in Finland.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability


Reading Grandmas and Grandpas brings seniors to schools in a pedagogically meaningful way.


Trained volunteers boost the students' confidence in learning and increase their motivation.


The innovation can be implemented anywhere, as the school trains volunteers with materials provided.

Implementation steps

Mapping the need
Consider which students could benefit from additional support with their reading and decide how the sessions would fit in with the students' curriculum.
Finding volunteer seniors
Find a motivated senior with enough time to visit your class once a week for half an hour to support the child's reading.
Exchange contact information as soon as you find a suitable senior so you can schedule Reading Grandmas and Grandpas training and make other arrangements.
Contacting the Reading Grandmas and Grandpas program

Just contact the coordinator and inform her you want to engage in the Reading Grandmas and Grandpas program.

The coordinator will send you the necessary material to train a Reading Grandma or Grandpa and to start the program. Please contact

Informing the school and homes
Get the support of your principal and inform the parents and guardians of the program. You can find help with this in the materials provided.
Reading the material

Carefully read through the Teacher Manual provided by the program coordinator. In this manual you can find the answer to frequently asked questions and advice to help you avoid common obstacles, as well as to make implementation as easy as possible.

Training a senior to be a Reading Grandma or Grandpa

Everything you need to train the seniors is provided in the materials, including a detailed outline of the training session. Simply schedule a time and location for the training.

Choosing the students
Choose a student who can benefit from the support of a Reading Grandma or Grandpa.

The student may need assistance in reading fluency, support in learning how to read or just more encouragement. Students from immigrant backgrounds can also benefit from vocabulary building help from a Reading Grandma or Grandpa.

Depending on how much time the senior is able to volunteer, you could choose one child or several.

Choosing the material
Take the time to select a book that will really motivate the student, this could be fiction or non fiction depending on their interests.
Meeting with the Reading Grandma or Grandpa
Arrange another meeting with the Reading Grandma or Grandpa to plan how the sessions will be.

Introduce the material chosen for the reading sessions.

If you have not agreed upon the schedule, arrange a regular time and place for the weekly sessions. Also set the duration of the program – will it last the whole school year or a shorter period?

Making introductions
Introduce the Reading Grandma or Grandpa to the school staff and the class. The Teacher Manual provides further details on how to get off to a good start.
The Reading Grandma or Grandpa at the school
Carry out the plan you arranged with the senior.

Meet with the Reading Grandma or Grandpa when they come in for the sessions, even if it's just for a moment. This way you maintain a line of communication and gain information about the student's development and experiences.

Organizing final sessions
Hold final sessions right after the program comes to a close – one with the entire class and the other one-on-one.

The final session with the class should highlight the student's progress and provide an opportunity for the children to say their goodbyes.

The private session between you and the Reading Grandma or Grandpa is an opportunity to discuss the sessions. How did they go? What did you gain from the experience? Were there any challenges? What did you notice about the progress of the student? Arrange potential cooperation in the future.

Further details on the final sessions can be found in the Teacher Manual.

Spread of the innovation

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