How to promote children’s early learning?

By reaching out to their parents and caregivers.

Parents are children’s most important role models, and they learn most from them. Reaching out to parents and making them stronger partners for their children is key to change children’s lives and foster learning.

How are parents reached?

  •  Through outreach programs in local communities (Habla Conmigo, Providence Talks, Reach out and Read, for example)

Educators and/or pediatricians work directly with parents and give them information about child development, the parents’ very important role as an active language and brain builder, and the tools necessary on how to communicate more effectively. Results show that these outreach programs work and change children’s and parents’ lives!

  • Through mobile technology and text messaging with short tips and/or videos on how to nurture learning (Vroom, Too Smart to Fail, Ready Rosie, for example)

Since most parents are online at least once a day, mobile technology and text messaging can potentially be a very effective (and cheap) option to connect with parents in order to boost their children’s learning. And text messaging may work. After parents of preschoolers got text messages with short tips on how to sound out letters, on how to read with their children, and trace letters while reading their preschoolers build stronger literacy skills compared to the children of parents who got general text messages about enrollment and vaccinations. Read the full article ‘To Help Language Skills of Children, a Study Finds, Text Their Parents with Tips.’ 

If you know about any other programs that reach out to parents, caregivers, educators to help promote early learning, please let me know, and I’d love to share this information on my website. Please contact me at Dr.RenateZangl@gmail.com. Thank you very much.

The Habla Conmigo Program

The program is for Latino parents, and is a collaboration between Stanford University (Dr. Fernald, Dr. Hurtado) and Grail Family Services (Veronica Goei) in Sunnyvale and San Jose, CA. It provides parents with information about essentials such as brain development, the malleability of intelligence, sensitive and supportive ways to talk and engage with the child, effective ways to read, and much more. Watch the TV news clip below:

The program is changing children’s and parents’ lives and is an incredibly valuable contribution to the local community.

Parents talk & engage more with their toddlers. 

Toddlers say about twice as many words by their 2nd birthday compared to their peers not in the program but at comparable levels at 18 months.

In just 6!! short months, the benefits of talking and engaging more are visible. That to me, speaks volumes! Equally worth-mentioning, mothers feel more confident in being able to engage with their toddlers and now have a support network of others mothers enrolled in the program.

Reach Out & Read Program

Founded in 1989, Reach Out & Read (ROR) aims to  get parents to read aloud with their young children to help them build strong language skills. How does it work? A new, age-appropriate book is given to enrolled parents at every well-child visit at their pediatrician. If needed, pediatricians and nurses demonstrate how to best read a book with the young children, and show caregivers effective ways of engaging the child with the book.

Parents read aloud more often to their infants and toddlers.

Their children have more words in their vocabularies  and are three to six months ahead of their peers not enrolled in the program.

Given that millions of children have participated in this program, imagine the positive change of introducing effective ways to read aloud has brought into children’s (and parents’) lives. Read more about the research findings here. Recently, doctors have recommended to start reading in infancy, as early as from birth. Read the NYT blog here.

Providence Talks Program

In Providence, R.I. many children from low-income families are not prepared for kindergarten and school, lacking substantial language and literacy skills. In Providence Talks parents are coached on how to improve their conversations with their young children to help them build those literacy and learning skills they need to do well in kindergarten and school. Parents enrolled in the program get LENA, a cell phone-sized device that tracks the number of words and back & forth conversations parents have with their children. Based on this ‘language pedometer’, parents receive feedback and concrete tips on how to boost their talk and increase their conversations.

Started by Mayor A. Taveras, the program is now in its initial pilot phase with 75 participating families. Scientists at Brown University evaluate the program as it goes on, and their feedback will be used to make the program most effective for parents and their children.

I’ll keep you updated on the progress of this project.

Learn more about the program:

Watch the PBS video and get a better idea about the program.

Vroom Program

Kickstart early learning and become a brain builder: That’s what Vroom encourages every parent and caregiver to do. Their motto ‘Every parents has to be what it takes to be a brain builder’ , is put into action by giving parents and caregivers free Vroom app. If you download the app, you receive brief tips daily on how you can spark conversations, turn everyday situations into what they call ‘brain building moments’ and help your child learn. Download the app on their website http://www.joinvroom.org. The program is available in English and Spanish.

Vroom is funded by the Bezoz Family Foundation. It was developed by a network of scientists well-known in the field of early learning, community leaders and community organizations together with input from families. Learn more about Vroom in this Seattle Times article, called ‘Pilot program gives parents tools to boost babies’ brains’ .

Too Small to Fail Program

Too Small to Fail is a joint initiative by the Clinton Global Initiative and Next Generation. One of its goals is to help promote early literacy, to find ways to bridge an early word gap and give parents and caregivers the information and tools needed so that they can improve their interactions with young children to help them learn. Working together with the American Academy of Pediatrics, they have recently launched an early literacy kit. Read more about their outreach in this article.

Ready Rosie Program

Ready Rosie provides parents, caregivers and educators with short video clips in which an easy learning activity is demonstrated. You learn how to turn an everyday activity such as grocery sh opping into a learning moment for your child and you. After subscribing to the program, you get daily videos on your phone or computer. The video clips are engaging, rich in language, and point out what children learn as you talk and engage with them. The goal is to encourage parents to communicate more, and more effectively with their children to help them build the skills necessary to do be ready for school.