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Nickelodeon underscores importance of kindergarten prep via texting program

Nickelodeon is helping parents get their preschoolers ready for kindergarten by way of a text program that offers weekly educational activities and tips to challenge children, proving that SMS is still a viable option for reaching older demographics.

The 2015 Nick Jr. Beyond the Backpack campaign is a readiness initiative designed to aid parents and caregivers with the best tools to prepare their children for academic success when they enter school. The omnichannel campaign features a slew of resources that also leverage beloved cartoon characters, such as Dora the Explorer, including a Web site, bilingual educational materials and a mobile program targeted at parents.

?Choice is the killer app,? said Jeff Hasen, founder of Gotta Mobilize, Seattle, WA. ?Nickelodeon is wise to include SMS alongside other options for parents and care-givers to be involved in the program.

?By building a text club, the network will engage with those who elect to easily receive weekly activities and tips.?

Critical educational achievement
The children?s entertainment brand partnered with a committee of advocates and educators to develop the campaign, including organizations such as National Parent Teacher Association, Children?s Defense Fund, Reach Out and Read, Jumpstart and Association of Children?s Museums.

The fundamental elements covered focus on five critical areas for educational advancement: social and emotional development, early literacy, family engagement, health and wellness and fundamental science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills.

Parents and guardians interested in signing up for the text program, which sends weekly tips and activities created to engage preschoolers in the learning process, can sign up by texting ?BACKPACK? to 91757.

On-the-go parents can also use their mobile devices to visit the brand?s designated site, www.beyondthebackpack.com. The site offers a quiz that suggests a personalized learning plan for each child, interactive videos, educational games and activities for preschoolers that can be printed out.

Supplementary resources
Bilingual children and families can turn to the Beyond the Backpack Toolkit, which serves as a readiness guide for kindergarten, with a checklist for parents to consult to ensure that their child has the appropriate development skills needed to succeed in the classroom.

Live events affiliated with Nickelodeon will also be taking place throughout the year, which will be updated accordingly on the campaign?s Web site.

The brand is airing television spots and public service announcements on its channels, featuring Instant Mom star Tia Mowry-Hardrict and beloved characters from Nickelodeon?s preschool series, to raise awareness about the importance of preparing early for a child?s entry into kindergarten.

While SMS texting programs did lay dormant for a good part of 2014, the mobile strategy has been picking up steam in the past few months. Many hotel brands, including Hyatt, are leveraging SMS programs that allow guests to check-in via their mobile devices and text a concierge for activity advice, room requests and dining reservations without having to leave their hotel rooms (see story).

?SMS is useful for many who live such busy lives and have little time to go through an overflowing email inbox or to seek out a Web site,? Mr. Hasen said. ?Text messages get seen within minutes and club members will have the ability to act immediately or put the new information aside for a rare moment when they can devote the time and attention to the communications."

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York