Testing Two Approaches to Engaging Pre-Primary Parents in Kenya [CIES 2019 Presentation]

The Tayari Program – Getting Children Ready for School is a Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) funded early education program in Kenya with a goal to increase school readiness skills of pre-primary children in Kenya, including sufficient cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being. As of 2018, Tayari has reached 145,000 children 1,500 early childhood centers in four selected counties in Kenya. Tayari’s activities include development of learning materials for students and teachers, teacher training and instructional support, and integrated technology solutions for tracking child development outcomes. Additionally, one component aims to reduce illness-related school absenteeism by promoting improved hygiene practices, water treatment, and health record-keeping in schools. To better understand parental involvement and the feasibility and cost of scaling up a parental component within the project, the Tayari program tested two different approaches to engaging parents in play-based activities at home to promote their child’s learning and development, with an aim to see which modality was more effective in getting parents to engage in their children’s learning and development at home. Reaching over 1200 pre-primary families in 3 counties, Treatment Group 1 parents received weekly face to face meetings, with a new activity introduced each week (for a total of four weeks). Treatment Group 2 parents, received the same activities, but instead of meeting face to face, the activity sheets and materials were sent home with their child from school. The four selected activities are the same for both Treatment Groups, and include a memory card game, a counting game, a read aloud, and a letter recognition game. The content of the four activities was designed to align with the Tayari curricular content. All materials were designed to be low cost and illustrated locally. Data and feedback on the pilot was collected through weekly SMS messages sent to the mobile phones of the represented parent in both treatment groups. We used the program, “Gooseberry” to request response from parents regarding each activity, including attendance to the meeting (for treatment group 1) and whether they received the materials (for treatment group 2), how often parents played the game with their children over the course of the week, and their level of satisfaction or enjoyment with the activity. Both treatment groups also participated in a conclusion workshop, at the end of the pilot, to receive qualitative feedback from parents via small group focus groups and interviews.