By Maya Sussman, Ready4K director of product
While this school year may have looked very different for many of us, there’s no doubt that kids — and adults — have been learning and growing. My 94-year-old grandmother learned how to join a Zoom call, my mom began to pursue her life-long goal of learning Russian, and I tackled a big personal goal by riding my bike up my super steep hill.
My family isn’t the only one that’s been learning and growing. While some Ready4K families have expressed concern about their children’s learning and development, many are celebrating the unique growth opportunities they’ve had this year.
It’s been a year of learning and growing here at Ready4K, too. We learned how to host interactive and engaging family workshops. We learned and grew through the experience of scaling our text messages to an entire state. We learned even more about what families need to support at-home learning.
And we’ve learned and grown through the process of launching and scaling our Trauma-Informed curriculum. We’ve shared the insights that led to the development of this program, and some of the lessons we’ve learned about connecting families to community resources.
Now I’m excited to share what we’ve learned from families about the impact of Ready4K Trauma-Informed.
A word about how we gather family feedback
At Ready4K we have an ongoing national family engagement survey that we’ve been learning from for almost five years. Every quarter (fall, mid-year, spring, and summer) we ask a combination of quantitative and qualitative questions to assess the impact of our programs across multiple domains. These include:
- the extent to which parents and caregivers feel supported by our messages,
- the frequency and quality of parent-child interactions, and
- children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development.
To date we’ve received almost 100,000 quantitative responses from families, and tens of thousands of qualitative responses to open-ended questions.
Each of our programs includes its own set of survey questions, focused on the specific target outcomes of the curriculum. The Trauma-Informed curriculum is designed to strengthen the protective factors, which are five characteristics or strengths that act to mitigate risks and buffer the effects of trauma. So the survey questions that accompany this curriculum provide insights on the extent to which the program has strengthened these protective factors.
We want families to be strong when stressed. We want them to have strategies for managing their response to stressful situations and ways to function well as they navigate challenges. We want them to be able to bounce back when they face adversity.
Parents reported that the Ready4K Trauma-Informed messages help them manage their response to stressful situations and rally when they face adversity.
93% of parents say Ready4K trauma-informed messages helped them deal with stress
91% of parents say Ready4K trauma-informed messages increased their confidence as parents
- “[Ready4K] has given me a second thought about how I respond to stress and ideas on how to better cope such as taking a minute to consider my feelings and breathing deeply before responding or reacting.”
- “[The texts] let me know and feel like I wasn’t doing anything wrong as a parent. Being a single parent has taken a toll on me and I find these messages helpful knowing I’m still doing the right thing as a parent.”
The past year has reminded us all of the importance of connecting socially. And of having supportive and healthy relationships that we can count on through good and through challenging times. In a time when it can be difficult to form relationships, families report that Ready4K helps them feel connected and supported.
Their survey responses highlight the confidence and reassurance families feel in knowing they’re part of both a local caring community, as well as a national network of Ready4K families.
97% of parents say Ready4K trauma-informed messages helped them feel more supported
87% of parents say Ready4K trauma-informed messages helped them feel more connected to their community
- “[The Ready4K messages] have helped make me feel like I’m still connected even when I don’t see people.”
- “[I appreciate] the reminders and resources that are brought up. They help to see what others might be going through and to confirm we are not alone in what we are going through.”
- “Nos hemos involucrado más en las actividades comunitarias en familia” (We’ve become more involved in community activities as a family.)
Knowledge of Parenting & Child Development
Like all of our curricula, the Trauma-Informed program is designed to spark at-home learning. A key part of our approach is to break down the complexity of engaged parenting into small steps that are easy to achieve.
Parents and caregivers report that they’re consistently incorporating Ready4K activities into their daily routines. And that these activities are contributing to their children’s growth and development.
93% of parents say Ready4K trauma-informed messages helped them make learning a part of every day
92% of parents say Ready4K trauma-informed messages helped their child learn and grow
Families shared examples of new ways in which they’ve started engaging with their children to support physical, cognitive, language, social and emotional development.
- “[We incorporate learning with] questions at the dinner table, looking out car window, etc., and my child engages almost each time. One thing I’ve really enjoyed – he brings things back up later, even days, so he’s continuing to develop his thoughts and how to express them.”
- “Sometimes I can have a hard time thinking of activities or not seeing there’s a bonding or learning opportunity in our everyday life. This helps add 30 seconds to hand washing, shoe tying, meal times etc. These moments become a little more educational, and a bit more memorable over time.”
Social & Emotional Competency of Children
While many kids have had limited opportunities to socialize with peers in the past year, families report that the parent-child interactions sparked by Ready4K texts have helped their kids build essential communication and relationship skills.
94% of parents say Ready4K trauma-informed messages helped them communicate with their child
97% of parents say activities in Ready4K trauma-informed messages strengthened their relationship with their child
Many parents reflected on how their own actions and attitudes towards parenting have led to positive growth in their children’s social and emotional competency.
- “The texts remind me of the positive impact I have getting the little things right… being present, engaging on my child’s level, being affectionate and communicative. As a new parent, knowing how much development happens in the early years, but unsure how to guide my baby or keep up, these texts show how key our bond is, and that our family involvement is his secure foundation.”
- “Thanks to these messages I’ve learned how to ask my son questions that make his imagination work, and also these messages have really helped me communicate better with my son at a level where he can understand me and I can understand how he feels, and teach him how to demonstrate his feelings.” (translated from Spanish)
Concrete Support in Times of Need
In addition to surveying families about the Ready4K FACT, TIP, and GROWTH messages, we also ask for feedback about the resources and information they receive through their local Community Support Stream. Families report a greater awareness of the resources and support available to them, and the majority of respondents shared that they’ve used at least one of the community resources we’ve sent.
93% of parents say Ready4K trauma-informed messages helped them feel that support is available to them
73% of parents have used a resource sent through the Ready4K Trauma-Informed Community Support Stream
These resources not only help families access concrete support when they need it, but they also empower parents to share their knowledge with others in their community, a key element of the Social Connections protective factor.
- “[The most helpful resources were] resources regarding children and family services for myself and resources for food, job, and housing”
- “Letting me know about community events/resources and linking me to accurate resources regarding the pandemic, health and local resources. The texts are short, simple and to the point”
- “If it’s not something that is what I need it can usually help someone else I know.”
Learning and Growing
Hearing directly from families about their experiences is how we learn and grow at Ready4K. Of course, we’ve learned over the last year what partners need to make the program work for them. But the family feedback we’ve received is crucial ensuring we continue to meet families’ needs as they shift and change. The feedback we shared above will inform the future of this program. We look forward to sharing what that means with you in posts to come.
So stay tuned!