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Mel Gravely

Using Texting as a Tool to Help Increase Parent Engagement

parent engagementIf you ever attended a training by any of the Consultants at The Gravely Group, we speak on parent participation being the key to a successful early learning program. So here is some great information that supports our theory that you have to reach out to parents with diverse methods of contact and learning. This is a portion of an article from the Harvard Family Research Project that used text messaging to increase parent engagement.

“Early childhood programs employ various family engagement strategies to support parents in promoting children’s school readiness, and practitioners may want to consider sending text messages to parents to supplement their current efforts. After all, text messaging is a ubiquitous, fairly inexpensive, easy to use service that could allow early child care practitioners to send educational prompts and reminder messages in real time for parents to read at their convenience anytime, anywhere To explore text messaging’s potential in family engagement efforts, we conducted a six-week text-messaging intervention study.

This intervention tested a subscription text message service that delivered daily text messages to parents’ cell phones. Texts included parent child activity tips covering a variety of topics, including literacy, mathematics, and science. Three Early Head Start and Head Start centers were selected for this research project. A total of 253 parents participated, and children ranged in age from 6 months to 5 years. The intervention group included 119 parents who received the text message service.

At the end of the six-week intervention, all parents completed surveys noting which of the following common activities they engaged in with their children during the preceding week: reading, arts and crafts, dress-up and pretend play, telling stories, teaching letters/words, describing to children what they were doing, playing counting games, and singing songs

The texting service increased parent child activities. Parents who received the text message intervention engaged in more activities than parents who did not receive the text messages. Specifically, more of the intervention participants sang to their children, engaged them in dress-up, pretend play, told them stories, and described to them what they were doing.

The texting service was particularly effective for fathers. Fathers who received the text messages engaged in more activities than comparison fathers. Specifically, more fathers engaged children in dress-up, pretend play and arts and crafts, sang songs to their children, and told them stories. Since previous research suggests fathers may engage in learning activities with their children less frequently than mothers, the texts may have inspired fathers to engage in a wider variety of activities than they otherwise may have thought to do.”

We believe in championing parent engagement at The Gravely Group.

Jane Hull once said, “At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.”


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