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Early Childhood Parent University

Through parent education, delivered by early childhood settings, parents will better understand and celebrate early development milestones.

Photo of Erin Carey

Written by

Updates: How has your idea changed or evolved throughout the Prize? What updates have you made to this submission? (1500 characters)

Through several conversations and suggestions from other members, we have considered translating our modules into other languages once they have been completed and tested in English. We have also considered using a Parent Network to disseminate and "advertise" the modules, from a suggestion that was offered by a contributor.

Name or Organization

Mount Vernon Presbyterian School - Preschool

Geography

Our program is located in Sandy Springs, a suburb of Atlanta, GA.

What is your stage of development?

  • Advanced Innovator with 3 to 10+ years of experience in ECD

Type

  • Non-profit

What is the stage of your proposal?

  • Prototyping: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing my idea.

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)

In the realm of Early Childhood, educators often see a disconnect between what parents remember as their first experiences in school (often Kindergarten or First Grade) and what they are seeing in their children's classrooms. We hope to help parents celebrate the current developmental stages of their children without trying to rush forward in the progression of skills to get to what they remember school to be like. Through intentional parent education, early childhood educators can help parents to realize that early educational settings can and should be more than just child care.

Select an Innovation Target

  • Service: A new or enhanced service that creates value for end beneficiaries.

Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)

Early Childhood Parent University aims to provide parent education to address the importance of early learning for infants and toddlers in Sandy Springs, GA, later expanding to other opportunities for international settings.

What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)

The problem we are intending to solve for is the lack of easily accessible, accurate information on early childhood development for parents of young children. Although there is a lot of Early Ed information out there, not all of it is parent friendly, based on the most current research, or focused on more than simple heath and physical development. By providing face-to-face as well as online workshops for parents, we hope to provide parents with increased understanding and comfortability.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

Initially, we have piloted providing one-on-one parent education sessions through the parent-teacher conferences held three times each year. In addition to information about each individual child's current developmental stages, parents are provided with a snapshot of the progression of the skills their children are developing every day. For example, infant parents are provided information on the gross motor development of their child, but are also taught about what skills built up to their child's current stage of development as well as what will come next.
Additionally, monthly in-person small group workshops are being curated and offered for parents to learn more about developmental stages, curricular work, growth and development in social and emotional growth. We would love to add online and/or reproducible and accessible models for parent education that would be available to schools beyond our area.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

Initial beneficiaries would be the parents that are able to attend the Early Childhood Parent University modules, either in person or online. Extending from that, we expect benefits to reach those parents' children, extended families, and parent friend networks. We are hoping that through the information gained in these modules, parents will be more informed about the developmental growth of their children, be better able to advocate for them, if necessary, ask more informed questions and have more realistic expectations when it comes to interacting with teachers in their early learning environments.
We interact with our beneficiaries (parents in our Early Learning Center and Preschool) on a daily basis, with more intense interactions following our three conferences every year and through these piloted Early Childhood Parent University workshops that have been rolled out so far this year as happening every other month. In addition to anecdotal feedback that these sessions (one on one with classroom teachers or in a small group setting with administrators) have been informative and helpful, parents have started to request even more developmental information, which has caused us to start thinking about this innovation in new and different ways and wondering how we can cast the net more widely by offering some of this information in online modules.

What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)

We are hopeful that this idea could have a long-lasting impact, not only for the families that we serve directly, here at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, but also into a wider community. By providing parents with realistic, research-based information on the development of their young children, we hope to help them, not only when their children are young, but to build in them the desire to be more informed and involved on current educational practices well into their children's futures. Ideally this would help with parent engagement, parent understanding, and could even lead to systemic education change if parents ask the right questions and remain informed and interested in their children's school's educational practices past early childhood and into their elementary and secondary education years.

How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)

Initially, we are testing out our idea with our parent population that is made up of mostly middle to upper-middle class families. While we know that this is a limited pilot group, we are hoping that through further prototyping and specifying what and how the information is disseminated through the Early Childhood Parent University, we hope to be able to offer, at least the online modules, if not some of the in-person modules in a no- or low-cost setting, making the information that would be shared and access to these resources more widely available to families with children in all socio-economic groups. Where internet availability would have proven a barrier even a few years ago, smart phones and public access to internet have become so much more prevalent that we believe these online modules will be the best way to allow wide-spread access at times that are convenient for parents working all sorts of schedules.

Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (5000 characters)

While we have seen many different parent education programs and platforms, we have not yet found one that provides the comprehensive, research-based information that our parents have come to desire and that we prefer to share. By using parent feedback and providing relevant information to parents of young children, we hope to help them to make the best choices for their children that they can. By providing this service both in person and online, we are hoping to be as flexible as possible to reach as many parents as would like to learn. We know that parents have different work schedules and flexibilities in their days and so by offering shorter modules at their convenience, we will be able to reach even those parents who have schedules that would otherwise keep them from being involved in these sorts of workshops.

Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)

Initially our market is only the parents in our school, reaching about 100 families. Eventually, we hope to offer this service, first to other partner schools, then to other schools at large for a small fee, then we would look into the feasibility of what modules could be offered for no-cost, or how we might partner with a group or school to provide a significant reduction in cost to keep this up, but also to provide the service to a larger audience. We would love to provide this as a subscription service to area schools, as well as later providing more options in order to increase offerings and marketability in different realms.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)

We are still in the discovery phase of determining long-term feasibility as well as technical upkeep. We are determined to have this offering for the parents at our school, but are still determining staff, technical, and operational needs in order to scale this in the way that we would like.

Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (5000 characters)

Market analysis would need to be done before each phase of development and roll out. At this point we do not have the amount of information needed to determine the relative success in the market. Pricing, subscription services, market response, and other options available in different markets will be the deciding factors in this.

HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (5000 characters)

We have used parent feedback, in the form of survey results and informal interviews, as well as teacher feedback in some conversations about parent questioning shifts after participating in one of the one-on-one meetings.

Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (600 characters)

It might be helpful to partner with a university or other organization to offer CEU's at some point.

As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (1800 characters)

Technical help of creating online modules for the future would be a great help. Also, organization of tiers of support could be a helpful

Would you like mentoring support?

  • Yes

Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with Gary Community Investments?

  • Yes, share my contact information

Name or Organization

Mount Vernon Presbyterian School Early Learning Center

Geography

Sandy Springs, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta.

What is your stage of development?

  • Advanced Innovator with 3 to 10+ years of experience in ECD

Type

  • Non - Profit

What is the stage of your proposal?

  • Prototyping: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing my idea.

15 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Iliriana Kacaniku
Team

Hey Erin Carey 
Welcome to the Early Childhood Innovation Prize. We're thrilled to host your idea and help it grow through our human-centered design approach and toolkits. I love reading your idea about Early Childhood Parent University and would like to learn what is the age range of children in your school, and how will their age distribution contribute to curriculum development? In the meantime, i'd encourage you to explore few ideas in the platform that seek to support parents through e-tools in organizing and running activities to foster child's development. Some of them have very interesting curricula developed in partnership with ECD experts and may serve as tested inspirations for you.

Best regards,
Iliriana

Photo of Erin Carey
Team

Iliriana,
Thank you for your comment and suggestion! I have been reading a lot of the other submissions and hope to contribute to some soon. Our school actually serves children from Infants as young as six weeks, all the way through 12th grade. This idea is geared toward the parents of our Infants through Pre-K aged children. We are excited to look at examples that are existing and see if there are collaboration opportunities, rather than re-inventing the wheel.

Photo of Heather
Team

Hi Erin,

I am not sure what curriculum you are planning to use with parents, but there are many evidence-based curriculum out there that have proven results. In regards to online modules, Triple P has an already created online module for parents that may be helpful to look at so you don't have to reinvent the wheel.

Photo of Erin Carey
Team

Heather,
Thanks so much for the suggestion. We have looked at some of the existing programs and have realized that what we want to share is more specific to developmental stages and especially social and emotional development as well as cognitive development progressions. While some of the platforms we have looked at do an ok job with some of this, we have realized that our parent community, in particular, might need a different delivery system. We will definitely continue to look at these existing platforms for inspiration as well as see if there are further ideas we could add to. Thanks!
Erin

Photo of Trey
Team

I appreciate how your model starts with 1:1 parent education sessions and then works to broaden its reach with small group sessions. Have you considered training parents to further disseminate your materials and assist with recruitment? I would imagine the parents' peer networks could help you further scale your reach, and once your online materials are created the networks could directly connect new families to your content.

Photo of Erin Carey
Team

Trey,
We had not thought of that yet, but it is a wonderful idea for when we get to that point! Thank you for the feedback and the thoughtful suggestion, we will definitely discuss this as a possibility when it comes to rolling out the online modules.
Thanks!

Photo of Jacquelyn Rose
Team

Hi Erin - Thanks so much for sharing your idea! I am wondering if you can please clarify what problem your innovation is intended to address and what the intended outcomes are.
Thanks!
Jacquelyn

Photo of Erin Carey
Team

Jacquelyn,
Thank you for the questions! The problem we are intending to solve for is the lack of easily accessible, accurate information on early childhood development for parents of young children. Although there is a lot of Early Ed information out there, not all of it is parent friendly, based on the most current research, or focused on more than simple heath and physical development. By providing face-to-face as well as online workshops for parents to learn more about specific topics geared towards particular developmental domains and levels, we hope to provide parents with increased understanding and comfortability. This trust and understanding can help parents to become more active partners and advocates for their children's development across all domains of growth and learning.

Photo of Jacquelyn Rose
Team

Hi Erin - Thank you for clarifying! The answer you provided to my question is very clear, concise, and perhaps most importantly, compelling. I recommend reviewing the answer you provided to the question "What problem are you aiming to solve," and including more of what you shared above.

Photo of bryan
Team

As a single parent I find this to be a great idea. It really does take a village to raise children and the more resources and education available is great. The idea could make child development seamless from school to home. Will the program be bi-lingual to meed diverse parent needs?

Photo of Erin Carey
Team

Great question, Bryan! Initially, the program is only in English as it is currently being tested with the parent population at our school. We hope that in the future we will be able to produce the program in Spanish as well as possibly Mandarin. This is one of the areas we need a little help with, mainly in the creation of the online modules in order to spread the messages. Thanks so much for your suggestion and for your comment!

Photo of DeLonn
Team

Erin, appreciate your idea! Parents often talk about parenting being our #1 job. While we spend thousands for degrees to prepare us for our #2 jobs (professional, academic, etc.), there is no "degree in parenting" and we spend very little on our #1 job.

Photo of Erin Carey
Team

DeLonn,
Thanks so much for the comment. It is so helpful for parents to understand some of the things that go into what we do everyday to help them, and the community at large, to see us as the professionals that we are.

Photo of Erika Flores
Team

Hi Erin! I agree there is a need for parents to receive more education on how to support the learning and development of their children. Will your idea be implemented in other languages other than English? That would be something to consider as there are many parents who may not be fluent in English but could benefit from a platform such as this one,

Photo of Erin Carey
Team

Erika,
That is a great idea! At this time, the offerings are only in English, but we are looking at the possibility of Spanish and Mandarin in the future! We are hoping to develop modules first, and then work on the translations! Thanks for the suggestion!