Parenting in America

Submitted on 2015/12/17 at 12:18 pm by David P. Racine

Increasing Parental Engagement

A recent study demonstrated a way to increase the amount of time less advantaged parents spend reading to their preschool age children. Here’s the abstract…

1. Using Behavioral Insights to Increase Parental Engagement: The Parents and Children Together (PACT) Intervention by Susan E. Mayer, Ariel Kalil, Philip Oreopoulos, Sebastian Gallegos – #21602 (CH ED LS)


Parent engagement with their children plays an important role in children’s eventual economic success and numerous studies have documented large gaps in parent engagement between low- and higher-income families. While we know remarkably little about what motivates parents to engage in their children’s development, recent research suggests that ignoring or discounting the future may inhibit parental investment, while certain behavioral tools may help offset
this tendency.  This paper reports results from a randomized field experiment designed to increase the time that parents of children in subsidized preschool programs spend reading to their children using an electronic reading application that audio and video records parents as they read. The treatment included three behavioral tools (text reminders, goal-setting, and social rewards) as well as information about the importance of reading to children. The treatment increased usage of the reading application by one standard deviation after the six-week intervention. Our evidence suggests that the large effect size is not accounted for by the information component of the intervention and that the treatment impact was much greater for parents who are more present-oriented than for parents who are less present-oriented.

Submitted by David Racine

Boys vs. Girls

This morning’s New York Times carries an article on a recently completed study showing that boys generally lag behind girls from early on, but the gap between girls and boys is even larger among less advantaged children. The authors of the study suggest that we probably need to take this gender difference into account in designing solutions to improve outcomes for less advantaged boys and girls. I’m not so sure about this but am interested in what others think. Here is the link to the article:

Submitted by David Racine

Supportive community for at risk teenagers

The Sangamon Success report calls for creating a supportive community to help at risk teenagers. We’re curious to know whether people think that supportive community already exists in our community. If it doesn’t exist or it needs to be strengthened, what specific ideas do you have for how that can be made to happen, since the report is light on details about this?