What’s Next for Prepared Parents
Two years ago, we had an idea (more of a hunch really) and set out to try something different. We believed that a lot of parents were tired of running a parenting race — the winner-take-all competition that pressures kids to get the highest grades and test scores so that they get into the “best” college.
Parents knew this competitive approach led to stressed out kids and fueled inequitable schooling. After years of building partnerships with thousands of families across the country at Summit Public Schools, we heard firsthand from parents that they wanted their kids to grow into curious, independent, and resilient adults and to have the tools to build a purposeful life. But, families didn’t have a roadmap to get there.
That’s how Prepared Parents was born: to bridge the gap between school and home. We translate leading research on how kids develop, learn and grow into actionable tips and tools families can use at home. We started by listening to parents about their hopes for their kids, as well as their top challenges with parenting and with school. They told us they needed resources and guidance that were:
- Research-based — Parents trust information from doctors, psychologists, and educators. They are hungry to learn how their kids learn best and develop into successful adults. Parenting too often feels like a mystery they are trying to solve.
- Actionable — Parents are busy and need relevant and easy-to-use tools they can put into action today. They want the best in academic and social-emotional tools, backed by learning science — if resources are too theoretical or complicated, they won’t fly.
- Community-informed — Parents want to feel confident in the tough choices they make every day on behalf of their kids. These decisions are often shaped by deeply-held community values and beliefs.
- Personalized — Parents need flexible ways to engage in learning that meet them where they are and fit their lifestyles.
- Centered on the Whole Child — Parents want caring and safe schools and they want their kids to get good grades, graduate, and then go to college. But they also want their kids to know how to navigate life — including solving problems, making important decisions, and managing the curveballs that will inevitably be thrown their way.
Prepared Parents launched in September 2019, but just a few months later, everything changed. The COVID-19 pandemic closed schools across the country and gave parents a starring role in their children’s education. In those first chaotic weeks, parents turned to us for guidance about how to make the transition to learning at home. As the pandemic stretched into a second school year, parents shifted into high gear focusing on how to complement remote school and help their kids find meaning and purpose amidst the chaos.
Through it all, we listened and learned from parents about their most pressing concerns, providing support as their needs shifted. In the past year, we have:
- Developed more than 100 tips, activities, and resources to foster habits and skills to nurture curious, independent, and resilient kids;
- Launched digital learning kits that combine real-world project-based learning experiences with activities and routines to build social-emotional skills;
- Built a community 50K strong directly with parents, as well as through partnerships with employers and community-based organizations to support their parent communities;
- Engaged a network of education nonprofits to provide teachers and families the resources to bridge the divide between home and school through a shared language and experience.
I am proud of what our team accomplished and I am also grateful for the families who shared their journeys with us. One father from Los Angeles shared the challenges of remote learning for his family. His 12-year-old son struggled pre-COVID with organizational skills, so when his teachers relied heavily on these skills in remote learning, his son began to quickly fall behind in class. He would step in, set goals for his son and push him through the everyday obstacles, unintentionally adding pressure to an already difficult situation. UNBOXED by Prepared Parents, and more specifically the Check-in/Check-out routine, provided a time and space for father and son to connect, and goal-setting became a shared experience.
“Before I was making the goals for Ben, but after looking at Plan in UNBOXED, I realized he needs to make his own goals. He’s decided his own goals are raising his hand to answer questions 5x/day, turning in assignments on time, and taking notes… it IS great!”
A mom in Washington state shared with us the power of tools like those in UNBOXED by Prepared Parents to shape education in her community. When this parent saw UNBOXED, she was excited that the tools integrated academic and social-emotional learning, and she shared it with her kids’ teachers. UNBOXED became a resource for the teaching team at her kid’s school, and back at home, the resources sparked meal time conversations that helped her family think differently about school.
“Learning is a family affair here. In fact, I printed these 16 habits out and they are on the wall in our kitchen. This is what it’s about…”
These families’ experiences weren’t unique. Families have shown their creativity, ingenuity, and resilience through the pandemic. Parents wanted the confidence that their kids were staying on track academically, and kids wanted to know that they mattered and that their schoolwork was meaningful.
UNBOXED by Prepared Parents
All of our tips and activities are available for free through our robust Resource Center. Search by asking a question, explore by specific habits and skills you want to nurture, or dive into our curated Collections on top parenting challenges that help kids build positive mindsets, tackle real-world projects, finish the school year strong — and many other relevant parenting topics.
Each of these resources incorporates the wisdom and experience of a diverse group of leaders and experts in the fields of education, neuroscience, learning science, and psychology. They are made practical through “how to’s” that provide step-by-step guidance. Whether you are a parent, caregiver, coach or educator, there are resources to help kids develop the skills that matter most to their development and growth.
Our Next Steps
As we approach the end of a second school year disrupted by the pandemic, there are many reasons to be optimistic, and yet so much work to do on behalf of all families. At Prepared Parents, we will be taking time to pause, reflect, and consider our next steps.
Over the coming months, we will explore the critical moments when families need resources and guidance the most. At the beginning of the pandemic, we all faced the same crisis: how to transition to learning at home. Families banded together, sharing resources and finding new ways to support one another. That sense of solidarity and support is not what most parents experience when they find out that their child has a learning difference or when they are told school “just isn’t working” for their kids. These moments are stressful and isolating for families, and reshape the relationships they have with their kids and with school. We believe there is an opportunity to create a reliable and accessible system of support for all families as they navigate these challenges.
The vision that inspired Prepared Parents is just as relevant today as it was when we began. We don’t want to go back to “normal” because we know that it isn’t good enough. Our kids deserve to pursue the lives they want to live — lives filled with financial security, purposeful work, meaningful relationships, and networks of support. Turning that vision into reality is the most essential work we — individually and collectively — can do.
Mira Habiby Browne is founder and Executive Director of Prepared Parents, an initiative of Marshall Street, a K-12 solutions lab of Summit Public Schools. All kids deserve the opportunity for success in school and in life. Prepared Parents unboxes learning science, psychology and behavioral research for parents to support their kids’ social-emotional and learning needs at home. Visit UNBOXED by Prepared Parents for resources to develop the habits and skills that nurture curious, independent, and resilient kids.