New program uses text messaging to boost literacy skills of kindergarteners

New program uses text messaging to boost literacy skills of kindergarteners

Researchers at Edith Cowan University (ECU) have launched a new program aimed at helping parents in disadvantaged communities build their children’s early literacy skills by using technology “that’s already in everyone’s pockets.”

ECU researchers are encouraging parents and carers of kindergarten-aged children in several localities in Western Australia to sign up for the free Kindytxt program, which will use text messaging to send simple and practical tips and activities to support early learning.

“Smartphones are a central part of our lives in 2021 and this project is hoping to capitalise on the prevalence of these devices to help develop young children’s reading and writing skills,” said Professor Caroline Barratt-Pugh, one of the lead researchers.

“Kindytxt aims to improve literacy in more disadvantaged communities by engaging parents through technology and provides easy to act on tips and advice,” she added. “We want to meet parents where they’re comfortable and text messages are a simple and relatively unobtrusive way to do that.”

Under the program, parents and carers will receive three text messages each week over a 30-week period, giving them instructions on simple activities they can do at home to help children develop literacy skills. These include shared book activities, songs, and nursery rhymes.

“We know that parents from a diverse range of communities are engaged in many different literacy practices with their children,” Professor Barratt-Pugh said. “These activities help build children’s vocabulary, concepts about print and love of books.”

“However, we aren’t leaving parents on their own. We’re also working with Kindy teachers and librarians to build partnerships that support early literacy and help children prepare for school,” she added.

The researchers are encouraging parents and carers from the following local governments to participate in the program:

  • Armadale
  • Broome
  • Bunbury
  • Canning
  • Carnarvon
  • Collie
  • Coolgardie
  • Dandaragan
  • Geraldton
  • Gosnells
  • Katanning
  • Kwinana
  • Mandurah
  • Northam
  • Port Hedland
  • Swan
  • Wanneroo

The program’s full details, along with the registration details, can be accessed through the Kindytxt’s official website.