We are all familiar with seeing parents walking down the street eyes glued to their mobile phones – meanwhile their children follow (or not) and sort of look like an inconvenience. In many cases, the level of interaction is zero because the phone has their full attention. Think of all the missed opportunities there are for sharing and learning about the world around them?
Engaging parents in their children’s education can have a positive impact on pupil outcomes – we know this. Lots of research tells us this and besides, we don’t need expensive surveys and reports to tell us a basic: parental input matters.
And so to this Tweet….
“Sending parents ideas of games to play with toddlers, as well as reminder messages, led to a positive impact on their children’s development”
Yes, you are reading this correctly. We text parents and say get off your phones because you have a real living human being alongside you that needs some stimulation, excitement and love.
Well, sort of. The idea is based around an App called Easy Peasy that sends games ideas to parents using short video clips. It has been found that using this particular programme improves early years skills and can boost the “school readiness” of disadvantaged children under the age of 5.
The programme was trialled by 302 families from eight children’s centres in Newham, East London, and the findings, published by the Sutton Trust, show the programme had positive effects on children’s concentration levels, determination and ability to make their own decisions. A couple of the key findings are:
- First, these results suggest a positive effect of EasyPeasy on children’s cognitive self-regulation, as reported by their parents. This measure includes the ability to ‘work things out for oneself’, ‘persist in completing difficult tasks’ and ‘make decisions independently’. Cognitive self-regulation, including persistence and concentration, is agreed to be an important pre-requisite of children’s ‘school readiness’.
- Second, a promising effect of the EasyPeasy app was observed for parental sense of control. Parents, for example, reported feeling more ‘in control’ as a parent and had a greater sense of being able to ‘get their child to behave well’ and ‘respond to boundaries’. They also reported being able to ‘stay calm when facing difficulties’.
Prof Kathy Sylva, lead evaluator from the University of Oxford, said
“Sending game ideas via an app offers a new and innovative way to support parents, reaching them directly in the home. The two evaluations of EasyPeasy provide promising evidence that this mode of delivery can really work.”
So we don’t exactly ‘unglue’ a parent from their phone but encourage them to use it more for ideas to learn how to interact with children.
There is a far easier way of tackling the attainment gap – turn off the damn phone and interact.
One more thing…..middle class parents are just as likely to be phone-centred as anyone else – the real issue is getting all parents to get off their phones.