OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

Granny Army - Utilizing resources/skills already available within a community!

Parents in the low income communities may not have the time (as they have to work hard for the survival of the family) or lack the necessary skills/ knowledge to raise their children. However, within a community we might find individuals (Parents/ Grandparents) who have certain skills; for example individuals may be good at farming, reading, story telling, singing, dancing, games, painting, weaving, etc. which can be taught by bringing children within the community together. Hence the skills/ knowledge which are readily available within the local community can be utilized to help children thrive during their first five years.

Photo of Sanjana Ramamurthy
23 24

Written by

After getting a lot of insight not only from the research phase (especially from missions like Key Influencers, Define the Problem and Success Adults), but also from some past challenges (like "How might we all maintain wellbeing and thrive as we age?"), I came up with this idea.

Parents in low-income community are usually busy working. Based on this situation, we target out 'teacher group' as grandparents mainly,especially grannies. Because grannies usually have rich experience as mothers and gooding understanding of what needs to be done for children. That's why our idea names 'granny army'. 

In order to implement it the following steps can be executed: 

Step 1. Identifying people (parents & grandparents) with skills within the community.
Step 2. Convincing them to teach and making them understand the importance of passing the knowledge to the next generation.
Step 3. Helping the community organise sessions/classes based on the available skills.
Step 4. Providing the training to communities, if they require certain skills.
Step 5. Gathering 1-5 years old children and skilled parents/grandparents and finding appropriate places (if necessary) to conduct the sessions.
Step 6. Bringing in awareness about the learning sessions within the community.
Step 7. Helping them organize and conduct sessions during the initial weeks.
Step 8. Tracking the progress of children’s learning and growth.
Step 9. Feedback from parents.

23/11/2014 Update

The younger children in your target group are not likely to sit to learn as school children do. The 5 year olds may sit for awhile to listen to a story, participate in group music/singing etc. 
All of the young children can learn through play. The 2 - 3 year olds won't yet play with other children directly, rather they play side by side. By the age of three the children will interact and play with each other and share. Children learn to problem solve through play. Helping children figure out how to use resources to find answers, rather than giving them answers enhances their ability to problem solve which gives them confidence. Having a group of Grannys with different interests and skill sets can be a great resource.
So, instead of traditional lessons, we are going to have more play lessones which are theme based, utilizing the Granny's ( parents & grandparentss) skill set that aligns with different themes. ex) Gardens - Let granny who is musical create a song about gardens or vegetables for the children to sing or dance to. Let the farmer tell stories about his work, or about how food grows. 
We will apply role model into our project. In that way, children can be exposed to success stories of adults so they can believe that everything is possible in the future. Adults in learning group may share their 'successful' experience to children to motivate them. 



Reasons for success:
1.The cost of implementation is low.
2.Involving people from different generations brings in a sense of belonging.
3.Efficiently utilizing skills/knowledge that are readily available.
4. Can be implemented immediately and requires a minimum of two volunteers. 
 5. Considering the generic nature of the idea, it can be implemented across the world among low income communities.

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

Given the generic nature of the idea, this can be implemented in any part of the world, among any community. The group of people who will benefit from this idea are children, parents, grandparents and the community itself. Basically everybody! Children: They will gain useful skills which may not be available within their family. Learning in groups/teams will help children realize the importance of teamwork and friendship. In addition, the project will help them enhance their creativity and learning. Children will attain skills and knowledge that is key within their community. Parents: They will have more time to work and provide for their family. Also, they will feel more comfortable knowing that their children are taken care of and being taught. Older generations will also guide them regarding the nutrition that needs to be provided for kids. Grandparents: They will provide their great value to next generation and will appreciate the fact of them being involved in the community. Community: Since the next generation of the community will be better equipped, not only a better present, but also a better future will be guaranteed. Builds a sense of belonging and oneness in the community.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

1. Test for skill availability within low income communities. 2. Check for willingness/ passion within individuals to teach or assist the new generation 3. Understand if parents are willing to send their children to such community organized sessions.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

In each community, we have to explain the benefits of this idea and find parents and grandparents willing to participate. We must also identify their skills so that each one of them has something to offer to children (others might know how to read and write, others how to cultivate land etc). Given the above, we might face some key challenges, like the possibility that some communities might lack wiling or skilled grandparents or parents.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • This idea is meant to inspire. I hope someone else takes it on!

23 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Ayman Hanafi
Team

Granny Army" sound amazing as every child adored their grandparents and they know best' having brought up their children. I'm sure this granny army would love to inspire their grand children and teach them lots of native stories, sewing skills ,cooking skills . planting, music and dance. A fantastic education. Best of luck to you all!

Photo of Ovidiu Badea
Team

Hi Sanjana,

This is a great idea! It has potential and I believe will be successful as grannies play a very important role in children life. As from my own experience, a grandmother/father is always on your side and can teach you many useful things that you can carry on your entire life.
I also think that children will attend the lessons with patience and interest, because the grandparents have their own pleasant way to explain things. Sometimes, parents in poor communities, might not be that patient with children as they always think about the problems they have regarding living. I would say grandparents are the best fit to teach children.
Good luck with your project!

Photo of Dalv Mac
Team

I agree with this comment, from my personal experience I had the same up bringing. They pass down their knowledge on to the next generation, the knowledge they pass down you definitely carry it on your entire life.

Photo of Dalv Mac
Team

Inspiring idea Sanjana, my team were also using the resources and knowledge available in the community, but we started off with sanitation then moved it on further to water purification. Is there a specific community in a specific country that you have been looking at?

Photo of Lee Stopher
Team

Hi Sanjana,

Interesting project. Pinpointing the 'grannies' as a potential educational tool is a simple and effective way of passing on valuable information down to new generations.

An interesting approach to look into would be to include older siblings in the learning experience. Young children look up to elders but also learn substantial amounts from their siblings. I understand that the parents work extremely long hours and won't have the energy to teach, however siblings will still be full of energy and may already be attending schools, therefore the older siblings could pass on information from their lessons or activities to the younger siblings between 0-5.

Good luck with rest of your project. Check out our project in the same challenge, named Story Stones. Your opinion would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

Photo of Sanjana Ramamurthy
Team

Hi Lee
Many thanks to your comment!
We thought about siblings before . Considering the fact that old siblings may lack capacity of supervise younger children, we are not going to set older siblings as the main tutoring group. But of course older siblings are welcomed to join the teaching group.
Anyway thanks again and love your story stones idea!

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Sounds like a potentially exciting approach! We recommend you try out a really lightweight experiment with a few people to test the assumptions behind your idea and record and share back learnings here. Check out more tips on prototyping: http://bit.ly/pr0totype We're looking forward to hearing how things go and how you'll iterate your idea going forward based on these human centred lessons...

Photo of Sanjana Ramamurthy
Team

Hi Meena,

Thank you for the tips on prototyping. As specified in the idea we are planning to test by having two volunteers analyse skills that are already available in a small local community.

Photo of Isabel Farchy
Team

Hi Sanjana,
This idea is interesting. I like the way it focusses on existing resources. I agree that piloting is an important next step. Do make sure you that you record the impact you're having so you know what the strengths and weaknesses of your design are.
You might find this guidance on impact evaluation useful.
http://goo.gl/yqTTra
Best,
Isabel

Photo of Sanjana Ramamurthy
Team

Hi Isable
Many thanks to your comment and guidance.
Impact Evaluation Toolkit seems quite helpful and we will consider using this.

Photo of John Smith
Team

Hi Sanjana, thanks a lot for your sharing.
Really really impressive and cool idea!One of the greatest strengths of this project is your project can be implemented all around the world in very low implementation cost! And I really love the idea that grannies should play significant role in up-bringing of children. Good luck with your project!

Photo of Sanjana Ramamurthy
Team

Dear John. Many thanks to your inspiration and we will keep working on it.,Dear John
Many thanks to your inspiration!

Photo of Andi SP
Team

Great idea but in low-income family, both of parents usually work for long hours and they do not have free time to attend offered session. How could help parents to manage time to attend sessions? Also do you have any plan of compensating the parents or grandparents who will be teaching, thereby creating employment opportunities?

Photo of Sanjana Ramamurthy
Team

Dear Andi
Thanks for your comments!
As you mentioned, parents in low-income are usually busy working. Based on this situation, we target out 'teacher group' as grandparents mainly,especially grannies. Because grannies usually have rich experience as mothers and gooding understanding of what needs to be done for children. That's why our idea names 'granny army'. We will update our idea and make this clear.Again, many thanks for reminding us.
For your second question, we are not going to offer any compensation for those grandparents or parents who join our learn group at present. Basically we encourage grandparents/parents to come and teach voluntarily. We believe that, involving people from different generations and letting parents/grandparents conduct sessions without paying money brings in a sense of belonging within the community. In addition, parents/grandparents who offer teaching sessions can also get benefited because their own children will be also taught by others. Of course we will consider offer rewards to those parents/grandparents who make great contribution to this project if we have considerable funding from project sponsor.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi Sanjana. Great idea to access Grannys as resources within communities!
I see in your comment below to ISMI that you will provide trainings to the Grannys which is great! Will this include training on normal child development?

One thought -The younger children in your target group are not likely to sit to learn as school children do. The 5 year olds may sit for awhile to listen to a story, participate in group music/singing etc.
All of the young children can learn through play. The 2 - 3 year olds won't yet play with other children directly, rather they play side by side. By the age of three the children will interact and play with each other and share. Children learn to problem solve through play. Helping children figure out how to use resources to find answers, rather than giving them answers enhances their ability to problem solve which gives them confidence. Having a group of Grannys with different interests and skill sets can be a great resource. Perhaps instead of traditional lessons you can have play groups which are theme based, utilizing the Granny's skill set that aligns with different themes.? ex) Gardens - Can the granny who is musical create a song about gardens or vegetables for the children to sing or dance to? Can the farmer tell stories about his work, or about how food grows? Can he encourage the children to pretend that they are farmers?

Here is a link about the different types of play that children partake in depending on their age.
http://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-development/play-work-of-children/pl3/

Photo of Sanjana Ramamurthy
Team

Hi Bettina.
Thanks for your suggestions and they are deeply appreciated!Actually we are going to provide necessary training to all adults who want to join the learning group ( especially grannies). Grannies are more recommended to teach kids under five because of their rich experience as mothers and gooding understanding of what needs to be done. I do agree with your view that we should help children figure out how to use resources to find answers, rather than giving them answers and enhances their ability to problem solving. We will apply role model into our project. In that way, children can be exposed to success stories of adults so they can believe that everything is possible in the future. Adults in learning group may share their 'successful' experience to children to motivate them.

We will consider giving different lessons to children bases on their ages and let grannies teach useful skills that are more relating to daily lives of the community.

Photo of ISMI Group4
Team

Actually this is quite an interesting idea. It may be helpful. However, I am just wondering where you can get the money to support this idea and there is any standard to identify people. By the way, maybe giving them some training is a better idea.

Photo of Sanjana Ramamurthy
Team

Hi ISMI Group 4

Thank you for your comment and question!
Since the implementing cost of our project is quite low, we believe that we can raise fund from challenge sponsors/NGOs. Actually we're not going to set any standards for identifying skilled grandparents/parents within the community. Every community must have a certain number of skilled residents. We believe that skilled parents/grandparents may come to us after we clarifying the project. In fact, we are going to provide training to communities so that parents/grandparents will be qualified enough to teach children.

Photo of Valeria Fernandez Cortina
Team

Hi Sanjana,

I loved your idea, and was thinking that I will need to have people with the communities to teach and impart the YUUM workshops, so I find your idea could very well work along side of mine... could you check it out

https://openideo.com/challenge/zero-to-five/ideas/yuum-making-education-a-game

Photo of Sanjana Ramamurthy
Team

Hello there Valeria!

Our ideas could sure go along really well! YUUM workshops sound very interesting and a great way of helping not only children skill development but also parents bonding with them. Grandparents could indeed participate in YUUM workshops. They could also influence more parents on imparting the workshops, since they are respected in many communities.
Also, thank you for adding me in your team, I will be happy to give you feedback and I am also waiting for yours!

Photo of Valeria Fernandez Cortina
Team

Great lest keep working together!

Photo of David Citrin
Team

Exciting and heart warming intervention! I do agree with Meena that this could be built out more (thought it's adaptability is at the center of it's feasibility). Great to tap into the wealth and breadth of experience in elders (not olders)...

Photo of Sanjana Ramamurthy
Team

Thank you for your comment David! We will keep updating the idea to back it up and share more results of our research.