Education Endowment Foundation:EasyPeasy: Learning through play

EasyPeasy: Learning through play

EasyPeasy
Implementation cost
Evidence strength
Impact (months)
0
months
Project info

Independent Evaluator

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Durham University
Play-based learning app for parents
Pupils: 1205 Schools: 102 Grant: £359,824
Key Stage: EY Duration: 2 year(s) Type of Trial: Efficacy Trial
Completed July 2019

EasyPeasy sends game ideas to parents of pre-school children to encourage play-based learning at home. Parents receive a weekly text message directly from EasyPeasy which links to videos of example games that they can play with their child, plus tips and advice about learning through play. The games target skills within the Early Years Foundation Stage areas of learning. This project focused on children in nursery classes (aged 3 – 4), whose parents received messages over 20 weeks.

There is good evidence that a positive home learning environment in the early years is associated with improved outcomes at school. However, relatively little is known about the best ways of improving it. The EEF funded this project because EasyPeasy offers an innovative way of reaching families, it has evidence of promise from two pilot RCTs, and the wider evidence on texting parents suggests that it can be a promising, low-cost approach.

This study did not find evidence that EasyPeasy had an impact on children’s language development at the end of nursery using a summary language score. Impacts on language subscales, and social, emotional and behavioural outcomes were small and mixed. The largest of these effects was on cognitive self-regulation, which is consistent with previous studies, though the effect here is smaller than has been reported previously and should be interpreted with caution.

Parents and nurseries viewed the potential of EasyPeasy positively, and a group of parents who were interviewed reported significant positive changes to the home learning environment. However, securing ongoing engagement from parents was considered to be a challenge in this trial. By the middle of the programme, half of settings estimated that 25% of parents or less were accessing EasyPeasy.

EEF will report on the longer-term impacts of the programme on children’s Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP) when the data is available.

  1. Children in schools receiving EasyPeasy did not make any additional months’ progress in language development compared to children in control schools, as measured by a composite, summary language score. This finding has a moderate to high security rating.
  2. There were small increases in word structure’ and concepts and following directions’ language subscales (equivalent to one month’s additional progress) compared to children in control schools, but no additional months’ progress in sentence structure’ or expressive vocabulary’.
  3. Mixed results were found for children’s social, emotional, and behavioural outcomes. Children who received EasyPeasy made small increases in sociability, cognitive self-regulation, and emotional self-regulation compared to the control group. However, effects on externalising, internalising, and prosocial behaviour and behavioural self-regulation favoured the control group.
  4. Parents receiving EasyPeasy reported improvements in the home learning environment. This included large increases in modelling’, responsivity’, and variety of activities and interactions’. These results are less secure than the main findings due to the small number of parents assessed, and should be treated as exploratory.
  5. Engagement from parents for the continued use of EasyPeasy was considered to be a challenge for nurseries. The most effective ways of encouraging parent participation included integration of the games into the classroom, introducing parents to the games at Stay and Play’ sessions, and parents sharing comments.
Outcome/​Group
ImpactThe size of the difference between pupils in this trial and other pupils
SecurityHow confident are we in this result?
CELF Core Language (Primary Outcome)
0
Months' progress
Sentence structure
0
Months' progress
N/A
Word structure
+1
Months' progress
N/A
Expressive vocabulary
0
Months' progress
N/A
Concepts and following directions
+1
Months' progress
N/A