Texts improve literacy in children from low-income households

One text message a week to parents of kids living in low-income households could help improve child literacy, new research suggests.

A US study by researchers at Stanford University discovered that by age four, children living in low-income households will have heard 30 million fewer words than children living in more affluent environments, pbs.org reports. Because of this, these children are at a huge disadvantage even before they start the academic process – a “world gap” problem that educators are desperate to bridge.

Now, a new program called Ready4K! has been launched by Susanna Loeb and Ben York of Stanford’s Centre for Education Policy Analysis. The program works by sending parents of preschool children (aged three to five in the US) weekly tips via text message on how to improve their children’s literacy.

Five hundred families living in a low-income school district in San Francisco were part of a trial last year; half of the families were sent three different text messages a week containing tips such as: “Say two words to your child that start with the same sound, like happy and healthy. Then ask: can you hear the hhh sound?” While the other half received standard school-related text messages.

The results showed that children whose parents had received the ‘tips’ text messages had gained the equivalent of two to three months of classroom time, news.standford.edu notes.

Pam Allyn, an international literacy expert, said: “This program utilises technology to bring school and home closer together. It goes right to the source.”