As parents, we’re bombarded with information every day about how to do a better job helping our kids learn. But taking whatever that useful information is and translating it into a specific task we can work into our busy lives can be a challenge. With so much information and so many asks of our time, how can we help parents develop positive daily habits to help kids learn?
As first reported in The New York Times, a new research study shows promise in using simple, inexpensive technology to tackle the challenge of encouraging parents to read to their children each day. In the study, parents received text messages three times per week with messages directing them to engage in basic literacy exercises: “By saying the beginning word sounds, like “ttt” in taco and tomato, you’re preparing your child 4 K” [kindergarten]” or “Let your child hold the book. Ask what it is about. Follow the words with your finger as you read.”
Parents who received specific instructions, as opposed to general messages about the importance of education, were more likely to act on them. And their children in turn scored higher on literacy tests, with their teachers reporting that those same parents were more engaged overall.
One school administrator explained the success this way: “If I got a little text saying, oh, ‘Today have you had a conversation with your child about x, y and z?’ I would be like, oh my goodness I need to do that. Let me just do it.”
A simple, inexpensive reminder with a concise request that a parent can actually do in the course of a normal day. That’s a smart idea.