Improving Early Childhood Development Outcomes in Times of COVID-19: Experimental Evidence on Parental Networks and SMS Messages

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Jan 2022
This paper presents novel evidence of an intervention to foster preschool students cognitive skills during COVID-19 pandemic. We conducted a policy experiment that provided preschool student parents with a SMS text message program to support student learning at home. Taking advantage of existing parent networks, we study the direct effect of being selected to receive the SMS text messages, and the spillovers of being part of a parent network. We show that after 15 weeks of intervention, SMS text messages increase student cognitive skills by 0.11 to 0.12 standard deviations. The effect is driven by an increase of parental involvement through the proposed activities. We find no evidence that information is transferred within parent networks.