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Talk More Tips: Teaching Texts

  • Oct 10, 2016
  • Shannon Nickinson
iPhone lying on a table iPhone lying on a table


What if the power to build a child's brain came to your phone?

Researchers in California found promising results in a program that used text messages to help parents talk more with their young children.

Susanna Loeb, an education professor at Stanford University, co-authored a paper about the program with Benjamin York. "One Step at a Time: The Effects of an Early Literacy Text Messaging Program for Parents of Preschoolers" highlights the impact the program had on the 440 families in the pilot program.

Under the "Ready 4K" program, parents got three text messages a week: A Monday text giving them a skills; a Wednesday text with a suggestion for how to practice that skills with their child; and a Friday text with a suggestions about how to expand that week's lesson with more activities.

Here's an example:

FACT: Bath time is great for teaching your child important skills for K. Start by asking: What are the things we need for bath time? Why?

TIP: When you’re bathing your child, point out the letters on shampoo bottles. Ask your child to name them & the sounds they make.

GROWTH: Keep using bath time to prepare your child 4K! Ask: What rhymes with tub (cub, rub), soap (rope, hope), & bubble (double, trouble)?

Helping parents understand the power they have to build a child's brain is a big thing to get your arms around.

Breaking that big task into manageable pieces is the key to making progress toward closing the "achievement gap" that can put students from working class and low-income homes at a disadvantage in school readiness compared to their more affluent peers.

The Ready 4K texts seem to be a good step in that direction. It is smart to leverage tools — the text message — that nearly every parent from nearly every income bracket has.

The folks at Ensley Elementary School, for example, have seen text message become a useful tool to build parent engagement. Assistant Principal Jessica Bryan says the convenience of text has helped build rapport between teachers and parents.

It's surely an avenue worth exploring.

For more advice, check out TMW Tips: Building Your baby's Brain, linked here.

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