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Preschool Parents' Responses to a Text Messaging Intervention

Fri, March 22, 7:45 to 9:15am, Baltimore Convention Center, Floor: Level 1, Exhibit Hall B

Integrative Statement

Overview: The text messaging intervention took place in 15 Head start centers participating in Jumpstart (258 families participated). The aim of the texting intervention was to foster preschoolers’ school readiness skills by promoting parental engagement at home through text messages that provided families with activities that could easily be incorporated into daily routines.
Intervention: Families were randomized into treatment (130) and control (128) groups (Table 1). Families in the treatment group received three text messages a week with language-rich math content. Families in the control group received one text message every other week that contained general information about kindergarten enrollment (Table 2). Text messages were sent from November 2015 to May 2016.
Research question: What were parents’ responses to the texting intervention in terms of a) information usage, b) what they liked most about the intervention, c) information helpfulness, d) likelihood of recommending to other parents, e) what suggestions parents had to improve the intervention.
Measures and Method: In May-July 2016, parents were asked to complete a survey on their responses to the texting intervention. More than half (62%) of parents in the treatment group responded to the survey. A mixed-method approach was used. Descriptive statistics were conducted on the scale items and open-ended question were coded into themes.
Parents’ Responses: Most parents in the treatment group who responded to the survey reported receiving the text messages (90%). Sixty-five percent of parents in the treatment group reported using the information most of the time or always. When asked what they liked most about the texting intervention parents responded: information about skills needed (39%), encouragement and support (31%), tips (activities; 24%), and reminders (6%). Ninety-one percent of parents in the treatment group who responded reported that the information in the texts was helpful or very helpful and that they would recommend or strongly recommend the text messages to other parents. All parents (treatment and control groups) were asked what they thought could be improved about the texting intervention. A few themes emerged: More Texts: A number of parents in the control group commented that they would have liked to receive more text messages: “i wouldn't mind receiving them more often”. Only one parent in the treatment group commented that s/he thought there were too many text messages responding “not so many [texts]”. Nothing to change: Many parents reported that there was nothing that they would change or improve about the intervention or that they were happy with the texting intervention as is: “Son excelentes gracias” [They are excellent thanks]; “I think everything perfect and helpful.” More information: Parents in both groups requested more information, directions, and details. For example several parents in the control condition gave responses such as “More info”; “Explicar con mas detalle” [Explain in more details]. A few parents in the treatment group commented as well “add more information”. Overall parents seemed to have positive responses to the texting program. This suggests that the texting model may be an appropriate and a well-received method for communicating with parents.

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