Evidence is growing that prompts and reminders in text messages can improve a variety of health, education and life outcomes, from early learning to kindergarten all the way through school to college attendance.
Research shows that sending parents tips through text messages is a great way to support child development, strengthen relationships and improve academic performance. And this free program is right here in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
For us in the early learning arena, Basics Insights is the right tool, at the right time to deliver the right message to help build babies’ brains and prepare children for kindergarten.
Basics Insights is one of the newest tools in the kit of Boston-based Basics Inc., an early learning program founded by Dr. Ronald Ferguson, faculty director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University.
The Basics provides an online repository of videos, activities, handouts and other materials centered around five key early learning principles and designed to provide routine interactions with families.
Studer Community Institute and 36 communities across the country piloted the evidence-based Basics Insights, a twice-per-week text message program to help parents talk and interact more with their children under 3.
Each week Basics Insights sends two messages based on the child’s age. On Monday, parents will receive a science-based fact and on Wednesday, a suggested activity to boost the child’s brain development and learning.
As an added bonus, a new feature includes a texting program called “Basics Engage.” This allows us to send up to four additional texts per month to parents in our Basics database.
For example, we sent information by ZIP code for a pediatric screening event. Organizers reported that they had 30 children to attend, children who otherwise may not have gotten the message without the text.
We are excited to share these new resources for parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers. As the old saying goes, parents are a child’s first teacher, and the home is his first school.
But there persists a wide literacy gap between less and more economically advantaged children at pre-kindergarten level and tends to continue into the school-age years. This gap can be explained in part by differences in parenting practices at home.
One way to improve children’s literacy skills is to improve parent engagement in learning at home.
The hope is that Basics Insights messages will serve as great early learning reminders and sources of new ideas to connect parents with their little ones.
Aa we know from experience and example the messaging certainly can matter in Escambia County as a way to help get more kids ready for school.
Our kindergarten readiness rate currently sits at a paltry 48 percent, which means that more than half of children show up unprepared with the fundamentals of early learning.
Not being ready for school brings a host of problems, including low high school graduation rates, high crime and more chances of getting pregnant or going to jail.
While parents of all backgrounds can enroll, a priority is making sure the text messages are helpful and accessible to families with low literacy levels or living in less advantaged circumstances.
Do the text messages help?
The Basics Inc., the nonprofit organization that leads the Basics Learning Network, released an analysis of data from the pilot group, which included more than 1,100 Pensacola area parents, the most from any community in the organization.
The results are promising, showing that Basics Insights text messages nudge parents and other caregivers to carry out behaviors across key areas for promoting young children’s learning and well-being.
The bottom line is a text messaging program can work to share important information and help improve the well-beings of children art birth and beyond.
The messaging does matter, and Basics Insights has the evidence to prove it. To sign up, visit bit.ly/33NXTpv or email firstname.lastname@example.org.