Family engagement is integral to the quality and success of early education, and the Ounce of Prevention Fund is always looking for innovative ideas to support children and families both in the classroom and at home. In 2012, the Ounce joined researchers at Northwestern University and the educational technology company, Parent University, to test out one of these new ideas.
Through the Pocket Literacy Coach project, parents at three Head Start programs in the Chicago area enrolled in the Parent University texting service. Parents received a daily text message that provided a fun, easy idea for a parent-child activity that focused on literacy, math skills, and critical thinking. The idea was simple: could a simple text message, once a day, prompt families to engage in everyday moments of learning? The Ounce conducted the first phase pilot to test the impact of the content and technology. The findings were overwhelmingly positive.
- Parents who received the text messages reported engaging in a larger variety of learning activities with their children than parents who did not receive the messages.
- Parents viewed the messages as an easy, accessible, and enjoyable means to inspire greater engagement and connectivity with their children.
Publications and Resources
- Supporting Head Start parents: impact of a text message intervention on parent–child activity engagement – This peer-reviewed article assesses the effectiveness of a texting initiative to improve parent involvement in learning activities with their children.
Ounce Research and Evaluation Team
- Tony Raden, Former Senior Vice President, Research and Policy
- Ann T. Hanson, Vice President, Advancing Quality
- Northwestern University
- Ellen Wartella, Professor of Communication, Professor of Psychology, and Professor of Human Development and Social Policy
- Alexis Lauricella, Associate Director, Center on Media and Human Development
- Parent University
Point of Contact
For questions or to learn more, contact Mallary Swartz, director of family engagement research, at ResearchTeam@theOunce.org.