130,000 parents. 150 organizations.
What we learned from our largest at-home learning survey yet.
By Maya Sussman, director of product
This month we conducted our largest ever family engagement survey: 130,000 parents from almost 150 early childhood education organizations. As our enrollment grows, so does our ability to learn from parents across the country.
As with all of our work, we approach surveys with an emphasis on equity and access. Instead of sending out a link to a multi-question online survey that would require internet access, a high level of literacy, and a dedicated chunk of time to complete, we send each parent a text with just one question. To respond, all they have to do is text us back their answer — it’s so quick and easy that we see responses begin to roll in within a minute of our surveys going out.
But we also come to this work with a strong background in educational research, so we wouldn’t be satisfied by only getting to ask one question! In order to maximize our learning while keeping the parent experience simple, we randomize parents across a set of questions. If we have three questions to ask, we send each one to a third of our families, so each parent only gets one question but we get answers to all three.
And while our survey questions are usually multiple choice, we automatically send an open-ended follow-up question to anyone who responds. This allows us to gather both quantitative and qualitative feedback, and gives parents the opportunity to expand on their multiple choice responses in more detail.
So what did we learn?
1. Parents don’t just read the texts, they do the activities.
94% of parents told us they do Ready4K activities with their child at least once a week. Even during school closures, when many parents are juggling more than ever before, they find the activities doable.
“The activities show you how you can help your child learn by doing everyday activities. The activities themselves aren’t complicated and don’t take up a lot of time. Easy and on the go.” (CA parent)
2. Over time, doing Ready4K activities becomes a habit.
We send each family three texts per week, but over a third of families do Ready4K activities more than three times a week. That means these families are not just doing activities in response to receiving a Ready4K text — they’ve built a habit of doing Ready4K activities with their child, and these activities are now woven into their everyday life. We know that predictable routines like these are particularly important during times of change, as well as for children who have experienced trauma.
“This text is part of our daily routine. I have been getting your texts since my child was in kindergarten and she is now in 3rd grade.” (CA parent)
3. During school closures, Ready4K has helped parents ensure their children stay on track.
88% of parents said they find Ready4K texts helpful or very helpful. When we followed up to ask how Ready4K has helped, many parents shared how much they appreciated the extra advice and support in the absence of their usual school routines and relationships with educators. Recent research suggests that low-income parents are particularly concerned about their children falling behind academically as a result of not being in school.
“It has really eased my worry about whether he is ready for kindergarten next year or not (ESPECIALLY now, when I would be getting really valuable feedback from preschool teachers on where he is compared to peers and what to work on over the summer … and that line of communication has been cut off by COVID)” (MN parent)
4. Parents appreciate the reminder to care for themselves too.
94% of parents said they would recommend Ready4K to another parent. Not only are the texts helping them support their children’s learning and growth, but they’re also supporting parents’ own wellbeing and mental health. This is particularly critical given emerging research on the ongoing mental health impacts of COVID-19.
“The activity that has been the most helpful during COVID-19 was the breathing technique, though I realize that is a parent activity and not a child one. Things were a little more stressful, so it was helpful to be reminded to take some deep breaths and relax.” (MN parent)
We’re grateful to all the families who shared their experiences and feedback with us in this survey, and we’ve been proud to share the results with our partners.