A growing concern for the early childhood field is how to best support parents and families in nurturing their young children’s healthy development. Educators and leaders are eager to help families gain the knowledge and tools they need to effectively engage in their children’s learning.
Technology-based interventions hold great promise for reaching and communicating with families. These interventions are relatively low-cost, scalable, and accessible for parents who use their mobile phones for communication and information seeking. Technology-based interventions can also reinforce the learning and community building of on-the-ground family support programs. But this promise can only hold true if the technology products are designed to reach parents and communicate what they want to know.
In the last few years, a number of tech-based family engagement platforms and tools designed to guide parents have emerged, including apps like Vroom, Let’s Play, and Kinedu, video tools like Ready Rosie, texting programs such as Text4Baby and Ready4K, podcasts, and word-tracking wearables like LENA and Starling. As awareness about early childhood development increases, more technology players (non-profit and for-profit) are likely to enter this space.
At The Early Learning Lab (The Lab), we have spent the past year surveying early childhood technology tools, learning how various products and programs are being implemented and evaluated, and identifying best technology practices for early childhood family engagement.
Whether you are an entrepreneur developing a new early learning tech product, a school administrator trying to find an effective family-engagement tool, or a parent-support program operator looking to add a digital component to your program, The Lab sees the following 10 design elements as critical to the impact of any early learning parent engagement tool: