Welcome to Parent University!
Parent University has been my passion for the better part of a decade. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to have many great partners and contributors. And together we’ve positively impacted the lives of thousands of families. You can read more about my professional profile over on LinkedIn, and you can get read more in-depth about how I view the world of education, social entrepreneurship, business and current events over at my personal website or check me out on Twitter. But here, I want to focus on Parent University and what PU is all about.
The mission of Parent University is to support parents and caregivers and empower them to be their child’s best teacher. Every parent wants the best for their child. These simple to do activities help you create a learning activity from every day moments – whether it’s in line at the store, folding laundry, making dinner, preparing for bedtime, making bathtime fun and everything in between. I know that two of the most valuable things for a parent are your time and your sanity. 🙂 Parent University activities are designed to help you save both while also keeping your kids engaged with high-quality interactions!
I built Parent University on the philosophy that Small acts performed well, repeatedly and over time, is the foundation for excellence.
Along with my sisters, I started in 2009 by providing daily text messages with simple to do learning activities that were designed for families with 0-6 year olds. By 2013 I had grown the PU team and we were on our way to supporting thousands of families and caregivers across the country with both English and Spanish activities! In 2013 we developed our own custom mobile learning platform and extended our impact beyond the continental US.
We have partnered with some of the leading early childhood education organizations in the world! And Parent University has been recognized by experts in published reports, articles and research for the effectiveness of the Parent University method and for our high-quality, research-based curriculum. Check out our media page for a selection of links to articles about Parent University.
In the mean time, I hope that you will come back to check out our enormous library of thousands of fun activities.
Thanks for visiting!
Chris Drew, PhD
To give you a sense of the big picture about Parent University, here is a brief PU history from inception through 2014:
- Began trading text messages containing nuggets of research and ideas for enriching activities amongst my siblings.
- Tested a text messaging concept with 100 families who completed surveys and offered feedback on their experience with the content.
- Iterated based on the feedback.
- Established a research-inspired philosophy that has served as the foundation of our family of services: Small acts performed well, repeatedly and over time, are the foundation for excellence.
- Pocket Literacy Coach launched. It included the first versions of our content delivered through our first group text messaging platform.
- The library of content continued to grow and become more finely differentiated based on developmental levels.
- Continued to build the research basis for sound practices for creating an enriching and stimulating environment.
- First major angel investor investment.
- First major thought partner, Knowledge Universe, tested the content and delivery service. Through this the content took major leaps ahead in sophistication.
- First major distribution partner, KIPP (Chicago, District of Columbia, and Los Angeles). User base began growing nationally.
- First independent study of impact of our services by University of Chicago graduate student. Findings included that it built the confidence of parents.
- First major corporate customer, Bright Horizons.
- First major non-profit customer, GreatSchools.org. Also conducted a large-scale (n = 700), multi-state study of the impact of the content and the services.
- Illinois House Joint Resolution 42 identifies Pocket Literacy Coach as a strong parent support service.
- Pocket Literacy Coach founder is recognized as a social entrepreneur and selected as a delegate to the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, England, alongside the likes of Kofi Anan, Saul Khan, Muhammad Yunus, Molly Melching and other world leaders in social entrepreneurship.
- First major policy partnership, The Ounce of Prevention Fund, identifies Pocket Literacy Coach (soon to become Parent University) as an innovative service for scaling home interventions for early childhood.
- Through the Ounce of Prevention Fund Pocket Literacy Coach is offered to 100 EduCause and Head Start families.
- The Ounce of Prevention Fund conducted first phase pilot to test the impact of the content and technology. The findings were overwhelmingly positive. The Ounce immediately began seeking out special grant funding to scale the program.
- Rebranded as Parent University.
- Featured in The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading study, “Pioneering Literacy in the Digital Wild West: Empowering Parents and Educators” assembled by the New America Foundation and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Street Workshops report. Identified as a top innovation and resource for empowering parents and educators to increase learning and enrichment opportunities within the home.
- Launch of Parent University app, a cross-platform mobile application that allows users to customize the experience, with a focus on customizable and individualized content to match the developmental level of their child and receive research-based enrichment activities in the form of a daily push notification.
- The Ounce of Prevention secured an $85,000 grant to fund the implementation and study of Parent University (formerly Pocket Literacy Coach). Research by Northwestern University scholars included studying 300 Parent University users. Findings include statistically significant impact on increased father interactions with children and increases in interactions of families with boys, among other significant findings.
- Featured in a series of EdCentral articles as a scalable solution for inspiring in home learning to close the Word Gap. (See here, here and here.)
- Launch free email service, called “Grandma,” providing daily research-based enrichment activities for users. Another technological innovation allowing users to receive high-quality enrichment activities.
- Launch Sitter University, a badging and alternative credentialing service for sitters, nannies and caregivers to be able to demonstrate their skills and competencies as a early childhood care provider. Sitter University leverages Parent University content and curriculum to help scaffold caregivers and provide introductions to the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) Standards for Early Childhood Professional Preparation.
- Received announcement that PU is to be featured in a forthcoming book by the nation’s leading reporter and leading researcher voice (Lisa Guernsey) on early childhood development (due out in 2015). TBA