Letter: Free text program aims to boost school readiness

I am emeritus on the Board of Think Small and I’m excited to share with my neighbors a new free program for parents and providers of young children.

Studies show that up to 90 percent of brain development occurs before age 5. As an advocate of high-quality early care and education, I know the importance of these crucial early years to success in school and life. I also understand that parent-and-child interactions are a key ingredient to early learning. Because of this, I wanted to let my neighbors know about a free text-messaging program for Minnesota parents that aims to boost a child’s learning, as well as increase parent engagement.

Think Small ParentPowered Texts provides families with fun facts and easy tips to help build a child’s school-readiness skills. The text messages are designed for parents of newborns through age 5 and are based on a child’s birthdate ensuring all messages are developmentally appropriate. Parents who participate will receive text messages offering suggestions on ways to promote their child’s social-emotional learning, literacy, health and math skills.

Research shows that when parents use this program, their children are better prepared for kindergarten. Built on studies out of Stanford University, researchers found the ParentPowered text approach increased family involvement at home and school, ultimately leading to child-learning gains (York and Loeb, 2014).

Think Small ParentPowered Texts are available in English, Spanish and Somali. Parents can sign up for the text messages by visiting ThinkSmall.org/Texts. I encourage all Minnesota parents with young children to give this a try.

MinnPost’s recent article can give you more information: www.minnpost.com/education/2017/10/texted-tips-help-parents-turn-routine-tasks-pre-k-learning-opportunities.

Mary Ann Barrows Wark, Falcon Heights 

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