Smartphone app trial looking for early years settings

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Early years settings are being invited to take part in a trial of a smartphone app that helps parents to support their child's learning.


A parent and chid playing EasyPeasy's Safari game

The trial, which will involve 136 settings and 8,840 children, will explore how effective the EasyPeasy app is in improving toddlers' language and communication skills.

Funded by the Education Endownment Fund (EEF), and being carried out by a team from the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring at Durham University, settings will be expected to get parents to sign up to the EasyPeasy app, which sends activities and tips on child development to parents. The content on the app covers all areas of the EYFS and aims to encourage positive interaction with children at home.

Parents and carers who take part will be sent short video clips with ideas of games to play with their child, along with brief written instructions and a series of text reminders encouraging them to try the games. easypeasy

According to the EEF, there is good evidence to suggest that engaged parents and a ‘vibrant’ home learning environment have a major influence on children’s development, yet little is known about how to better support families who are struggling to provide this.

A smaller trial of EasyPeasy last November funded by the Sutton Trust’s Parental Engagement Network found evidence that the app improved children’s concentration and their willingness to complete difficult tasks. The EEF trial will see if the app has similar results with a larger group of families.

An evaluation of the app will be published in Spring 2019.

The EasyPeasy trial is one of four trials funded by the EEF to evaluate the impact of different teaching and learning startegies. Another trial will explore if digital app onebillion:app-based maths learning, that acts as a virtual teacher, can help five- and six-year-olds with their maths skills. The EEF is looking for schools to take part.

Sir Kevan Collins, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said, ‘We know that the attainment gap between the richest and the poorest pupils begins before they’ve even started school. Tackling this disparity early on is critical to breaking the cycle of disadvantage and improving social mobility.

‘But it can be difficult to get parents involved in their child’s learning. EasyPeasy is an inexpensive app that encourages positive play and interaction with children at home. After early promising results, our trial will find out if this could be an effective way of improving parental engagement.’

  • To register your interest in the trials click here
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