A smartphone app aimed at the parents of toddlers is to be trialled at Durham University. The EasyPeasy app sends activities and tips to parents with the purpose of improving the language and communication skills of their tots. 

The trial, which will be conducted by Durham’s School of Education, will involve sending videos to the parents and guardians of 1,500 toddlers. These short video clips, which will suggest games that could be played with the toddlers, will be sent together with brief written instructions.

The parents and guardians will then receive a number of text messages reminding them to give the games a try. 

The EasyPeasy app has already been tested on a smaller scale by Oxford University. The Oxford trials suggest that the app can improve the concentration skills of young children, as well as boosting their willingness to tackle difficult tasks.

The research at Durham University will be more wide-ranging and will check if the findings of the Oxford study hold up when the app is tested with a larger number of families. 

Half the families in the Durham study will use the EasyPeasy app and half will not and the two sets of results will then be compared. The study will also focus on the children’s performances in their nursery classes, with researchers looking out for any changes in the tots’ use of language and communication abilities.

It is widely accepted that a stimulating home-learning environment is good for children’s development and it is hoped that EasyPeasy can be an aid to parents who are struggling to provide this. The app covers all aspects of the Early Years curriculum.

Dr Lyn Robinson-Smith from Durham University’s School of Education said, “It is really important that different methods and interventions offered to and implemented by schools and nurseries are tested in large-scale trials to make sure they are effective.”

“We already know that the home-learning environment has a big impact on children’s development, but we need to know more about how we can best support parents and guardians to provide activities in the home that foster development and complement their child’s learning at nursery and school.”

The results of the Durham study will be published in the spring of 2019.

(Featured image courtesy of Dave Lawler, from Flickr Creative Commons)

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