The latest national test results show that only 1 out of 3 children reads proficiently by the fourth grade, and only 1 out of 10 have the kinds of advanced skills that 21st-century jobs will demand. These alarming statistics—with little-to-no improvement year after year—prompted Joan Kelley to develop Abound Parenting, a mobile application that promotes strong and successful readers through easy, parent-led skill building.
“Our application empowers parents to keep their child’s progress on the upward slope without a heavy lift. Through conversations that can happen while pouring cereal or walking to the park, there are opportunities to build skills that strong readers have in abundance in the later years, and struggling students grapple with more and more,” Kelley explains.
Joan Kelley received her Ed.M in Language and Literacy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2005. Her passion for early education fueled her career working in and with schools, using instructional approaches that follow science and help children learn to read well. But despite the hard work and dedication of teachers, too many children struggle to read or don’t reach their reading potential.
One common problem Kelley noticed was that parents were left out of the conversation about their own children’s reading development in ways that could matter for kids. Many of the skills needed to read well have to develop 24/7/365 in a steady drip of quality interactions and experiences. She realized the focus needed to shift to enlisting the people who are with children the most—parents—in doable, everyday ways.
Realizing the potential for parents playing a casual-but-critical role in their children’s reading development, Kelley founded Abound Parenting. Unlike most mobile applications, Abound Parenting’s method works on children’s reading skills without putting children in front of screens. Parents using the groundbreaking application get quick, daily questions to ask and vocabulary to use that initiate conversation, expand children’s critical thinking skills, and encourage creative problem solving. The content also exposes children to a variety of subjects that will help with reading comprehension in the years ahead.
The app’s Benchmark Check-In questions give parents a chance to be on top of their children’s reading development so they can provide support informally at home and discuss any issues that arise with teachers. The Check-In results also drive personalized content that is delivered daily. The content is designed around 2-week themes, includes book recommendations, and provides a weekly academic vocabulary word with daily usage examples. Parents can also access easy-to-read summaries of the latest early language and literacy development research.
Kelley’s Abound Parenting platform is backed by years of intensive research on what makes successful readers flourish and prevents other children from reaching the same feat. It addresses the combination of literacy skills that advanced reading demands, and social-emotional skills, too. “What frustrates me is that reading affects a child’s life so very much. When children don’t read as well, when they struggle early or later, it actually impacts how they feel about themselves, and can lead to anxiety and depression. There is too much at stake. Why not try to avoid later intervention through the combination of helping your child along in quick ways day-to-day and keeping on top of progress? It just makes so much sense, yet we have never engaged parents in this substantive way while using an approach that adds joy, rather than more work, to families’ lives.”Learn more about Abound Parenting by visiting its website.