We want to identify and test improvements to the Playtime With Books service, a digital book-sharing programme, so that it works better for delivery partners and families who are unable to access face-to-face book sharing programmes. This programme is one of the ways of meeting our fairer start mission goal of closing the early years disadvantage gap.
The frequency of shared learning activities between caregivers and children have been shown to be important for child language development. Evidence shows that frequent shared activities, including book sharing, at an early age can predict vocabulary development at age three and school age.
Programmes that support parents to increase the frequency and quality of book sharing can make a tangible difference to language outcomes and social and emotional outcomes which, in turn, impact on school readiness in literacy. Support may be particularly important for families experiencing poverty who face additional barriers in sharing books regularly.
In this project, we will be supporting the PEDAL team’s digital adaptation of its Playtime with Books programme for parents of younger children (aged 10 - 24 months). One of the long-term aims of the online adaptation is to engage families from socially disadvantaged backgrounds who may not be able to, or prefer not to, access face-to-face services for different reasons.
In phase one of the project, we drew on our expertise in service design to support the scale up of the Playtime with Books programme. We prototyped ways of delivering (and potentially scaling) a high-potential digital parenting intervention with a range of prospective delivery partners. In the initial 12-week project we interviewed a range of stakeholders, including local authority service managers, early years practitioners and providers of digital parenting interventions working at a wide scale. We used these interviews to:
- understand strengths and weaknesses of the existing programme model from a variety of perspectives
- understand how feasible it is for Playtime with Books to be delivered by local services
- identify and test options for adaptations to ensure it works well for potential partners and parents.
The project offered the opportunity to refine our approach to supporting emerging parenting solutions, understand more about the digitalisation of parenting programmes and what they need to be able to scale in partnership with local services.
Phase two of the project aims to adapt the Playtime with Books intervention, implementing it with families facing socioeconomic disadvantage in two local authorities and testing its suitability and readiness for further impact evaluation and delivery at a wider scale. It will also identify any further development required before it will be ready for wider implementation.
The activities in phase two are divided in two steps:
- The pre-delivery step aims to set up what is needed for testing and refining the adapted intervention. This includes optimising the digital platform, recruiting delivery partners, convening a co-design advisory group to involve parents and practitioners, and adapting the intervention content as needed to suit the delivery context.
- The delivery step will involve testing the adapted intervention by piloting its delivery with two local authority areas, one rural and one urban, with up to 100 parents. We will also produce a report in the end summarising learning from the co-design and delivery phases of work and make recommendations for future work.
By the end of phase two we will further build our knowledge of how this intervention can be implemented in different contexts, and what is required to implement at a wider scale.