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Research Summary

  • Program participation – 90% of participants indicated involvement in 75% or more of the program sessions of the program during the year, while another 6.5% of participants indicated involvement in 51% to 75% of the program sessions.  This is a very high rate of participation and retention in a parent education program involving parents and children.


  • General value of the program - Participants expressed very positive feelings about the general value of the program, with 78% indicating it was very or extremely useful to them.  Among participants in the 2016-17 program, 76% said the handouts and learning activities were very useful to them.  Finally, all of them agreed that the information was presented well and they were treated respectfully, with those who strongly agreed they were treated well at 87.5% among all participants.


  • General impacts of program participation - Among participants, 55% indicated the program increased their knowledge of child development a lot or very much, 53% noted it increased their knowledge of healthy parenting a lot or very much, 58% felt it increased their confidence in being a good parent a lot or very much, and 51% said it increased their parenting skills a lot or very much.  Additionally, 80% felt it changed their parenting behavior at least somewhat, and 85% indicated that it influenced their relationship with their child positively.


  • Program value versus other information sources - The results from the 2016-17 session of the program indicate that participants rated the school (3.78), preschool/Head Start/child care (3.78), and parents with children of a similar age (3.64) as among the most useful sources of information for them on parenting and preparing their child for school. However, the Gearing Up for Kindergarten class and materials were rated higher than all other sources with a mean score of 4.07, indicating that participants felt the class was more useful to them regarding parenting and school readiness than any other information source assessed.  Participants rated the Gearing Up for Kindergarten program substantially higher than any other information source assessed.


  • Increases in children’s school readiness as described by parents - Among 19 indicators of school readiness assessed by parents regarding their children, significant differences were measured on all of the 19 indicators between fall 2016 and spring 2017. This pattern was the same in each program model. This means that all of the indicators for school readiness showed positive growth in children participating in Gearing Up for Kindergarten.  In analyzing all increases, the findings suggest growth in five primary areas: (1) social skills and positive interaction with others; (2) ability to function more independently and learn actively in a guided environment; (3) development of specific pre-academic skills or knowledge that applies to a school setting (knowing the alphabet and numbers, etc.); (4) ability to express themselves through art and hands-on creative activities; and (5) ability to manage emotions and adapt in a new environment.


  • Parent knowledge of school readiness - For parents in the program, 10 indicators of knowledge related to school readiness showed significant increases in their knowledge levels and ability to prepare their child for the school experience.  For example, the parents showed increases of knowledge regarding social and emotional development in children, development of early reading and math skills, areas of competence for school readiness, and key elements of a supportive home learning environment.


  • Parent confidence in child’s preparedness for school - For parents in the program, among 3 indicators of their confidence with a child’s preparedness for school, significant differences were measured on all 3 indicators between the beginning and end of the program.  Findings showed that after going through the program, parents felt more confident in the child’s level of preparedness for kindergarten, and also increased their confidence in the activities being done to prepare their child for school transition.


  • Increases in children’s academic readiness as determined by objective assessment - Children overall and in each model of the program made significant progress increasing their number counting ability, number identification ability, letter identification ability, and sound identification ability.  These steps forward in early academic skills indicate children are making progress with regard to early literacy and early numeracy.


  • Parent-child reading interactions – Parents indicated significant changes on a variety of parent-child reading interactions during the program. Areas of reading interaction that showed significant improvement were parents became more likely to go to the library with their child, they were more likely to discuss contents of a book with their children, they read more often with children, and they were more attentive to finding age- appropriate books for their children.  All of these items are important because they are actions that serve to facilitate a positive literacy environment for children in the home.

Research and evaluation on the program objectives and outcomes is ongoing.  More detailed information and research findings can be found in other documents and reports located on this site.