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Reading Grandmas and Grandpas

Marker Jyväskylä, Finland
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.

What is Reading Grandmas and Grandpas?

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

– 10-year-old student

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 and education 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 train Reading Grandmas and Grandpas, who support 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.

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Intended Outcomes
8 - 12
Age Group
Resources Needed
Facilities for reading sessions, time to find and train volunteers
HundrED Criteria
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.

See this innovation in action.


Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

Mapping the need
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Finding volunteer seniors
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Contacting the Reading Grandmas and Grandpas program
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Informing the school and homes
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Reading the material
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Training a senior to be a Reading Grandma or Grandpa
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Connect with the innovator

Hanna Pöyliö
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