Parenting Tips for Literacy Development: The Positive Effects of a Text-Messaging Program for Preschool Parents

February 20, 2015

Parents play an important role in their children’s education, but there are substantial differences in the home learning experiences of children by socioeconomic status. In this seminar, Susanna Loeb and Ben York discuss the results of a randomized control trial of READY4K!, a text messaging program for parents of preschoolers designed to help them support their children’s literacy development. Susanna Loeb and Ben York sent parents in the treatment group three texts per week about an early literacy skill or cluster of skills for the entire school year. About every two weeks, they sent one “placebo” text to parents in the control group about the district’s kindergarten enrollment process or required vaccinations. They found that READY4K! had significant positive effects on parents’ home literacy activities, parental involvement in the school (as reported by teachers), and children’s scores on a spring early literacy assessment. Given the extremely low cost and widespread use of text messaging, texting is an attractive alternative for supporting parents.