Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES Award # R324X220032)
Almost 1 million preschool children have a disability with the largest percentage having a language delay or disorder. Because language is the foundation of learning and social relationships, we need to ensure that children with language delays or disorders receive maximal support to develop important language skills. Preschool children typically receive speech- language services through their preschool programs. Due to large caseloads, it is hard for speech language pathologists to interact with parents (or other caregivers) to teach parents how to support their children’s language skills. As a result, children lose valuable language learning opportunities.
We developed Parents Plus to meet this need in an accessible way for parents. Parents Plus is all online. Through an app, parents first learn about the importance of language and then how to use a specific evidence-based language facilitation technique called focused stimulation. They regularly meet with a coach over Zoom who helps them use focused stimulation with their own children.
A note about the Parents Plus logo (a parent giving their child a key): The language support parents provide their children will give them a “key” to success. And the heart on the key shows that parents do this with love!
Does Parents Plus Work?
The findings of our initial work are promising!
Results from our initial development and two early field tests of Parents Plus are published in Infants and Young Children. From this early phase, parents reported that Parents Plus to be a valuable use of their time, find the information and procedures helpful, and they noticed improvements in their children’s language skills. We are currently finalizing the data analysis from the pilot study which included 31 parent-child pairs, with half of the parent-child pairs doing Parents Plus and half not using Parents Plus. Parents were able to successfully use focused stimulation (the language strategy taught in Parents Plus). Children whose parents used Parents Plus had larger gains in language skills compared to children in the control (no Parents Plus condition).
In Winter 2023, we will begin recruiting 100 parent-child pairs to help us do a larger test of Parents Plus. We want to see whether Parents Plus (in addition to the regular speech-language services that children receive at school or in the community) leads to faster and bigger gains in preschool children’s language development.
For More Information
For more information, please contact Dr. Brook Sawyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-758-3236.