Supporting Parents and Children with Text Messages

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Supporting Parents and Children with Text Messages

Becoming a parent the first time is often overwhelming. Mastering nappy changes, feedings, and even grocery shopping can be a challenge. Eventually though, we manage to make it through that and find ourselves with these little people we need to help learn and grow. (To see what this has to do with a site that discusses text messages … read on)

To know what to do, we read books, search online, ask our family and friends. But even then it’s easy to suffer from information overload. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a simple checklist, or specific activities we could be told about on a regular basis? Across the pond, researchers are applying that concept to early literacy teaching. And they are using text messages to achieve it.

Stanford University in America published a study in 2015 on the impact of using SMS messaging to help parents teach early literacy skills to their preschool (ages 3-4) children. In America, the lower economic classes’ children hear about 30 million fewer words than their peers from “professional” families by the time they reach age four. While there have been, and are, many intervention programs, they rarely find success long term due to cost or limited teaching time with the parents.

Stanford looked at whether simple, step by step directions combined with positive support sent via text message would have a bigger impact on the economically challenged families. Specifically, the primary group of parents received three text messages a week that included facts, tips, and support for the parents on how to improve the literacy of their children. There was a control group as well that received general text messages on the rules and regulations regarding education, but none about literacy.

The results of the study showed that the parents who received the literacy tips were more engaged with their children (on that subject). Here’s a description from the study:

“For example, the intervention increased the frequency with which parents told stories, pointed out two words that begin with the same sound, pointed out two words that rhyme, recited nursery rhymes, looked at pictures in a book, showed the different parts of a book, and played games or worked on puzzles with their children”.

The text messages guided the parents through these specific types of activities. This made it easier for parents to follow through on them and the children benefited. This is a creative and inspiring example of how the technology can be used to improve people’s lives. Do you have a creative idea or example of how SMS messaging was used? Please share it with us in the comments.

You can also vist our main site to read about “Text Messaging in Education“.

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