A new app that sends game ideas to parents has been found to boost the “school readiness” of disadvantaged children under the age of 5.
Research published today shows that using this digital programme improves important skills in children in early years.
A trial carried out by the University of Oxford has tested the impact of an app with parents and carers of children between the ages of 2 and 5.
The programme, EasyPeasy, sends short video clips to parents that give them ideas of games to play with their child, along with brief written instructions and a series of text reminders encouraging them to try out the games.
The programme was trialled by 302 families from eight children’s centres in Newham, East London, all in disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
Children more 'school-ready'
The findings, published today by the Sutton Trust, show the programme had positive effects on children’s concentration levels, determination and ability to make their own decisions.
The trust said these capabilities underpin children’s ability to learn and succeed at school, and are considered essential for "school readiness".
Parents taking part in the trial, funded through the Sutton Trust and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation’s Parental Engagement Fund, used the app for three months.
Parent reported improvements in their children’s ‘cognitive self-regulation’. This means they were better at persisting with difficult tasks, making decisions independently, and working things out for themselves.
Parents also reported that they felt more able to get their child to behave well and respond to boundaries, as well as feeling more able to stay calm when facing difficulties.
Previous research commissioned by the Sutton Trust found a 19-month gap in development between the richest and poorest children by the age of five.
Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation and of the Sutton Trust, said: “We know that the attainment gap between the richest and the poorest pupils begins before they’ve started school, and is a strong predictor of future outcomes in education and wellbeing.
"Tackling this gap early on is critical to breaking the cycle of disadvantage and improving social mobility.
“It is vital that parents engage with their child’s learning and development, but this can sometimes be difficult. It is very encouraging therefore to see the promising findings that EasyPeasy – an app that sends game ideas and parenting tips to parents and carers – is having a positive impact on both parents and children.”
Prof Kathy Sylva, lead evaluator from Oxford University of Oxford, said: “Sending game ideas via an app offers a new and innovative way to support parents, reaching them directly in the home. The two evaluations of EasyPeasy provide promising evidence that this mode of delivery can really work.”