Supporting parent engagement in a school readiness program: Experimental evidence applying insights from behavioral economics

Lisa A. Gennetian, Maria Marti, Joy Lorenzo Kennedy, Jin Han Kim, Helena Duch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Early childhood interventions aimed at reducing socioeconomic disparities hinge on parent engagement. However, sparking parents’ engagement and sustaining it throughout the course of interventions has historically been challenging. We designed program enhancements informed by the interdisciplinary field of behavioral economics to support parent engagement in Getting Ready for School, a school readiness intervention for Head Start preschoolers. The behavioral economics enhancements are hypothesized to address psychological factors that might interfere with parents’ decision-making, including attention, misestimation, and related parent biases about children's learning. Results from a randomized control design in four Head Start centers show that, compared with families that received the typical curriculum, those that received behavioral economics–enhanced strategies, such as personalized invitations, child-friendly activity planners, text-message reminders, and commitment reinforcement, had higher parent attendance and follow-through for GRS activities and spent more time with children on educational activities outside of the classroom.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Volume62
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2019

Keywords

  • Behavioral economics
  • Early childhood intervention
  • Parent engagement
  • Parent involvement
  • Poverty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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