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Reading Grandmas and Grandpas

Reading Grandmas and Grandpas come over to classrooms to read books together with struggling readers that require extra help. The ‘grandmas and grandpas’ visit each class for a duration of 30-minutes each day. During these reading moments the grandma or grandpa will give their undivided attention to the child. The books read during these sessions will consist of reading both nonfiction and fiction literature and then having a brief discussion on the content.

What are the goals you are looking to achieve with the experiment?

The goal is to support literacy development with school-aged children using research-based techniques combining collaboration and book reading. We will also acknowledge the hopes and requests of the seniors participating in the project.

The seniors volunteering for this project will receive comprehensive training for the profession and they will all receive peer support from other volunteers participating in the project. Materials and guidelines of how this kind of activity will be carried out will also be available at each school.

The goal is to create a pleasant and collaborative model that pleases all parties but has a specific target in developing children’s literacy skills.

Explain the concrete steps of your experiment.

The ‘reading grandmas and grandpas’ visit each class for a duration of 30-minutes each day. During these reading moments the grandma or grandpa will give their undivided attention to the child. The fiction and nonfiction literature read will be followed by a brief discussion on the content.

The MLL (Mannerheim League for Child Welfare) grandmas and grandpas will receive research-based technique training that focuses on how to ease literacy development. The participants will also receive training on different types of reading techniques.

In participation with the Niilo Mäki Institute, the MLL is also developing two new Reading Grandma and Grandpa models which are targeted towards children with different cultural backgrounds and towards Finnish language learners (FLL students). In the first model seniors with an immigrant background will read in their mother tongue to children with the same mother tongue as themselves. In the second model seniors will read books together with FLL students and they will have received training that pays special attention to learning vocabulary.

How will the experiment be scheduled in the spring of 2017?

The reading grandma and grandpa model has been active since 2012 and it has been developed with the support of RAY (Finland's Slot Machine Association whose proceedings go to domestic charities such as pensioner care and gambling addiction treatment). Starting in 2017 the model will be continued in partnership with the MLL, Suomen Isovanhemmat ry (Finland’s Grandparent Association) and with multicultural centers across Finland. Currently the models focusing on immigrant students are still being further developed and a study will be conducted to recognize their impact. Results will be available at the end of 2017. The feedback and results received will be used to aid the future development of the project and its materials.

How will the experiment change the way we educate?

The ‘reading grandma and grandpa’ model is a new form of support for literacy development. According to studies the motivated seniors have had an effect on children’s feelings of self-efficacy while reading. The reading grandmas and grandpas are also an important pair of extra hands in the classroom. Knowing that a student will get the needed extra support from an adult eases teacher concerns. However reading grandmas and grandpas cannot and do not intend to replace special needs education or remedial instruction.

The ‘reading grandmas and grandpas’ will become an important part of classroom culture and teachers will have the opportunity to invite them to participate in other school activities as well. It is also a great opportunity for the senior to share their own life experiences within different school subjects.


Potential partnerships / schools:

School from 13 different districts have already agreed to participate in this project.

Contact Information

Contact person: Marika Peltonen

Contact email: marika.peltonen@nmi.fi

Jyväskylä Finland


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