A digital programme that sends game ideas and tips on child development to parents could improve important skills in the early years, according to new Oxford University research.
The randomised controlled trial conducted by Oxford’s Department of Education and published by the Sutton Trust, suggests that the programme has positive effects on children’s concentration levels, determination, and ability to make their own decisions.
The study tested EasyPeasy, a digital programme for parents and carers of 2-5 year old children that encourages positive parent-child interaction through play in the home.
The programme was trialled by 302 families from eight children’s centres in Newham, all in lower income environments.
Parents taking part in the trial, funded through the Sutton Trust and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation’s Parental Engagement Fund used the app for 3 months, and 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 – sometimes described as ‘grit’. These capabilities strongly underpin children’s ability to learn and succeed at school, and are considered essential for ‘school readiness’.
The app also had a positive effect on parents’ sense of control, with parents reporting 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.