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Texting to Improve the Language Skills of Children

November 23, 2014
Plain English Version

Texting to parent

Children from middle-class homes do better in school than children from lower-income homes. The differences in children’s experiences start early. Some parents read a lot to their children and spend more time talking with them.

Experts have been looking for ways to help lower-income parents. They found a way. Text parents with reading and language tips.

A study was made of a group of parents. Most of them came from a lower-income background. Text messages were sent to parents. The messages gave parents tips on reading to their children. They helped parents teach children how to sound out letters and words.

Parents now had tools and reminders. They could do what they had maybe only thought about doing before. An expert said, “What’s really cool about this is the texts reach parents at a time when they act on the advice.”

Test results showed that the texting worked. Children whose parents got texts did better on tests than children whose parents did not.

Half of the parents got texts three times a week for eight months. The texts said, “By saying beginning word sounds, like ‘ttt’ in taco & tomato you are helping prepare your 4 K.” They suggested, “Let your child hold the book. Ask what it is about. Follow the words with your finger as you read.”

An expert said, “If I got a text saying, oh, ’Today have you had a conversation with your child about x, y and z? I would be like, oh my goodness, I need to do that. Let me just do it.”

Almost all the parents had unlimited text messaging on their cellphones. The program cost less than $1 for each child.

Source: The New York Times November 14, 2014

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