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Imua Family Services launches Ready4K

Imua launches digital texting program, continuing its support of parents and families during the pandemic. Text “IMUA” to 70138 to participate.

People are talking a lot about children these days. There’s been talk about our keiki missing out on school, the many ways in which they can fall behind, and the challenges of remote and distance learning. Frustrated parents have repeatedly lamented the hardships of working at home with kids – scrambling for time, desperate for space and leaning heavily on screens they have long tried to limit.

What has received far less attention, child development experts say, is the impact the pandemic is having on our youngest children: babies, toddlers, preschoolers and kindergartners. Without intervention, many families of young children will suffer.

One of the most critical time periods in child development and learning is from birth to five years old. The first five years of child development is crucial to their health, wellbeing and the overall trajectory of their lives in a variety of ways.

In response, Imua Family Services, along with Ready4K and Hawaii Community Foundation, have partnered to provide evidence-based text messages free for families. Developed by educational researchers, Ready4K is an evidence-based family engagement curriculum delivered via text message. Each week, parents receive fun facts and easy tips on how to promote their children’s development by building on existing routines – like pointing out the letters on the shampoo bottles during bath time and naming their sounds. The Ready4K curriculum covers the whole child from birth through age 10 and is available in English and Spanish.

Ready4K is specific messaging tailored to the child’s age and current development. The family receives three texts per week. A FACT on Monday, a TIP on Wednesday and a GROWTH or activity on Friday. The program is set up to accommodate families with multiple children of varying ages. The goal is to support children and their families in their development, and it is especially helpful during this time, where closings and safety precautions have led to dramatic decreases in families accessing childcare, early childhood education environments, schools and preschools. Ready4K is safe, digital and on track.

In a series of randomized controlled trials, Stanford University researchers found that the Ready4K approach increased parental involvement at home and school, driving two to three months of child learning gains over a school year (York & Loeb, 2014; Doss, Fahle, Loeb & York, 2017; York, Loeb & Doss, forthcoming). This research has been highlighted in The New York Times, Education Week and Huffington Post.

“This is not only for children enrolled in Imua Family Services programs and services. This opportunity is for all children and families in Maui County. I use it with my eight-year-old son, my friends are doing it with their children, and we all love it. Families in Imua Inclusion Preschool are utilizing it, and we’ve heard nothing but positive feedback and comments,” says Dean Wong, Executive Director.

Signing up is easy! Just text “IMUA” to 70138.