An early childhood development survey, conducted by the Queen Rania Foundation, has found that children spend the majority of their time at home with their parents. The same survey also found that 40% of mothers read to their children and only 7% attended a parenting program. Furthermore, the majority of mothers who participated in this survey were unaware of the importance of the role they play in their children’s development as 55% stated that they fully or partially agree that homeschooling has a limited impact on the outcomes of their children's education.
There is a growing body of evidence that points to the importance of parental engagement when it comes to their children’s education outcomes. This is why the Queen Rania Foundation hopes to find ways to support parents in their role as first teachers through its “Parental Education Program”.
This program consists of two main phases, the first of which was concluded in 2017 in partnership with the Jordan River Foundation. As part of this phase, mothers received training that covered the characteristics of a functional family along with a plethora of other learning topics. Phase two aims to test a scalable and sustainable model of the program, in light of the results obtained from phase one.
QRF will combine in-class learning with technology-assisted communication, to increase parental awareness of Early Childhood Learning and Development, and encourage positive parent-child engagement.
The Parental Education Program follows two learning models: the blended learning model, in which parents partake in face-to-face training sessions, and a virtual learning model where all material will be made available to the parents online. Both of these models will utilize Facebook as a medium for sharing educational videos and information.
QRF has commissioned the Behavioral Insights Team (BIT) to develop text messages that encourage participation in the program and engagement with its material. Both models will be rigorously tested using a mixed methods approach to gain a real-world assessment of the program’s potential.
This study represents a positive step towards building the evidence base needed to build sustainable early childhood development initiatives and the Queen Rania Foundation will continue to share its experience and lessons learned with all relevant stakeholders.
In partnership with the Jordan River Foundation, a total of 20 weekly training sessions were delivered to a group 62 mothers as part of phase one of this program. Quantitative and qualitative research conducted to evaluate these training sessions has shown positive and significant changes in participants’ knowledge of and attitudes towards early childhood development. Mothers reported increased awareness of effective early stimulation and development activities. On average, they were interacting more often with their children, and positive changes in children’s learning and growth were reported by participating mothers.
Overall, this pilot phase revealed that implementing face-to-face training is costly and not scalable in the long term. More sustainable and cost-effective mechanisms of delivery need to be identified and tested in order to maximize the reach of the program.