NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

One Step at a Time: The Effects of an Early Literacy Text Messaging Program for Parents of Preschoolers

Benjamin N. York, Susanna Loeb

NBER Working Paper No. 20659
Issued in November 2014, Revised in March 2018
NBER Program(s):Children, Health Economics, Economics of Education

Large systematic differences in young children’s home learning experiences have long-term economic consequences. Many parenting programs place significant demands on parents’ time and inundate parents with information. This study evaluates the effects of READY4K!, an eight-month-long text-messaging intervention for parents of preschoolers that targets the behavioral barriers to engaged parenting. We find that READY4K! increased parental involvement at home and school by 0.15 to 0.29 standard deviations, leading to child gains in early literacy of about 0.11 standard deviations. The results point to the salience of behavioral barriers to parenting and the potential for low-cost interventions to reduce these barriers.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20659

forthcoming in the Journal of Human Resources

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