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Thursday , October 18 2018
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EPISD Rolls Out ‘Tips by Text,’ Pre-K, Kinder Parents Get Help Via Cell Phone

For parents in EPISD, getting useful tips to get early-childhood education help can be as easy as checking the text messages on their phones.

Tips by Text is a new tool available free of charge to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten parents in EPISD who want fun, quick tips to aid their children with thier ABCs.

The program was developed by researchers at Brown University as a way to help parents better prepare their children during the early stages of the education process.

“A lot of parents don’t know how to work with their children to build their literacy skills at home, so this offers easy suggestions they can use at home and that will have a long-lasting impact in the education of their kids,” said Tim Holt, EPISD’s director of technology innovation and pilots.

Parents who wish to participate can fill out a participation form at their child’s EPISD elementary school.

The Tips by Text program is part of a research study aimed at improving early-childhood education. Participants can cancel their participation at any time, and although a survey will be collected at the end of the year, parents are not required to fill it.

Participation in the program is completely confidential.

Text sent to parents are easy to understand and give useful facts, tips and even suggestions for activities that can help their children start learning to read early. Examples of literacy texts include:

  • Letters are the building blocks of written language. Children need to know the letters to learn how to read & write.
  • Point out the first letter in your child’s name in magazines, on signs and at the store. Have your child try. Make it a game. Who can find the most?
  • Keep pointing out letters. Point out each of the letters in your child’s name. Ask: What sound does it make?

“Our research to date has demonstrated that the text messaging program increases pre-kindergarten parents’ involvement at home and school, ultimately leading to learning gains in some areas of literacy, math and social emotional development,” said Dr. Eileen Horng, executive director of the Annenberg Institute Labs at Brown University.

Generally, on Mondays, “fact” texts are sent, designed to generate buy-in from parents and provide information by highlighting the importance of a skill or the ease of an activity.

On Wednesdays, “tip” texts are sent, which aim to reduce the cognitive demand of supporting child development by showing parents how to make the most of existing family routines in fun and easy ways.

On Fridays, “growth” texts are sent, which provide parents with encouragement and reinforcement as well as a follow-up tip. The text messages are: linked to state standards; draw on research on child development, parenting practices, and behavior change strategies; and cover a wide range of literacy, math, and social emotional skills.

“Unlike other programs that place significant demands on parents, this text messaging program breaks down the complexity of parenting into small steps that are easy to achieve,” Horng said. “It also provides parents with encouragement and information over prolonged periods of time.”

Story by Reneé de Santos  |  Photo by Leonel Monroy – El Paso ISD