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Pocket Literacy Coach

Could a simple text message prompt families to engage in everyday moments of learning?

Family engagement is integral to the quality and success of early education and Start Early is always looking for innovative ideas to support children and families both in the classroom and at home. In 2012, we 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? We conducted the first phase of the pilot to test the impact of the content and technology. The findings were overwhelmingly positive.

Key Findings

  • 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.

Research & Evaluation Team & Collaborators