We believe the early childhood field can leverage technology to accelerate children’s early learning outcomes at scale. The Lab builds the capacity of early childhood professionals, from teachers in the classroom to organizations and institutions serving families, to effectively use technology through trainings, publications, convenings, and the development of our own tech tools to meet the needs of teachers, parents and caregivers.
Early Learning Tech
We design our products to empower practitioners and families with ways to support their children’s healthy development. Our technology products include Reflectable, a professional development tool, and Stay Play Grow, an app for families with young children.
Finally, we identify strategies to accelerate the pipeline of new technology solutions and platforms to help parents of children 0–5 gain the knowledge, skills and access to resources they need to support their children’s healthy development.
Even with quality training and professional development, it can be a challenge for early childhood practitioners to then apply their learnings when they are caring for children. We created Reflectable, a simple online tool, to make it easy for teachers, caregivers and parents to build best practices for supporting young children and their healthy development week by week.
Reflectable provides opportunities to try out best practices from their training, reflect on how it is going, and plan what to try next – all in just a few minutes a week. It is intended to align with and strengthen professional development.
Stay Play Grow
Parents and caregivers are facing unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We designed the free app, Stay Play Grow, to support families with young children and provide them with a comprehensive one-stop resource during the pandemic.
Stay Play Grow offers a wide range of resources to help families do simple activities to help children learn and play at home, get self-care strategies, meet basic needs, and find trusted health and safety information. The app was made available in English and Spanish.
A Statewide Parent Portal for California
Navigating California’s complex system of child care and early education programs can be a challenging process for families. To ensure that families have access to timely, accurate information about high-quality programs, enrollment, and eligibility for benefits, California is developing a “Parent Portal.”
Brought in by the California Department of Education, we worked with the Santa Clara County Office of Education and other partners to conduct user research and provide recommendations on the design and development of a statewide portal that will maximize parental choice and knowledge of child care options in California. Read a case study on California’s Parent Portal.
Enabling Smart Early Childhood Technology in Public Systems
The interactive report Enabling Smart Early Childhood Technology in Public Systems: Where We Are and What Comes Next explores the critical ways that technology can and should be used across early childhood settings to support high-quality adult-child interactions, enhance program and service operations, and streamline and coordinate systems-level data.
We partnered with leading early childhood organizations to examine current tech adoption and public funding in each organizations’ respective home state: California, Illinois, and Texas. With this report, we aim to empower the growing number of early childhood technology entrepreneurs with a better understanding of what tech solutions are most critically needed now and to give program implementers, government and systems leaders, and funders concrete strategies to better support tech adoption.
Since the inception of the Early Learning Lab, we have heard both enthusiasm for and skepticism about the use of technology in the early childhood field. One area of discussion is the use of technology to reach and support parents and other caregivers of children.
Because of technology’s potential to engage parents and the many questions surrounding its efficacy, we’ve decided to explore this issue. Thanks to funding from the Pritzker Children’s Initiative, we’re excited to release the report NextGen Technology: Insights and Recommendations to Support the Parents of Children Ages 0–3.
10 Critical Design Elements for Parent Engagement Technology
A growing concern for the early childhood field is how to best support families in nurturing their young children’s healthy development. Technology-based interventions hold great promise, but only if they are designed to reach families and are truly useful to them.
At the Early Learning Lab, we have been surveying early childhood technology, learning how products and programs are being implemented and evaluated, and identifying best technology practices for family engagement. Learn more about the 10 design elements we see as critical to maximizing the impact of any early learning parent engagement tool here.
Improving Technology that Connects Parents, Health Providers, and Community Organizations
The Early Learning Lab worked with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland to improve the user interface and overall design of FINDConnect, their platform that connects families to resources to address the social determinants of health.
Throughout the fall of 2017, we interviewed clinicians, navigators, and families about their experience with the tool. We also conducted observations of the tool in use to better understand how the information flow and interface can be improved. More information about FINDConnect can be found at www.findconnect.org.
Incentivizing Teachers to Use Assessment Tools
To better understand what supports and incentives are needed to increase teachers’ use of a California online assessment tool, called the DRDPtech, we conducted focus groups with early childhood teachers in the San Jose area for First 5 Santa Clara.
DRDPtech enables teachers to enter assessments of children through observational data aligned to early childhood development foundations. The data helps inform instruction, and child care providers are required to upload assessments to score the highest rating on the Child Observation element in the California Quality Rating and Improvement (QRIS) system. The Early Learning Lab provided recommendations for First 5 Santa Clara on how they can better provide technical support and incentivize the use of DRDPtech in their county.