Committee for Children

Parachute

An app to help parents tackle everyday struggles, from bedtime battles to major meltdowns.

We’ve spent over 3 years partnering with Committee for Children (CFC) helping translate their 40-year focus of building social, emotional learning for kids to a digital platform.

Illustration of swingset

We first began working with CFC following over a year of internal research exploring the idea of making an app to help parents better cope with everyday and common parenting challenges. Taking their long-established, in-classroom work into the home meant the opportunity not just for children, but a partnership with the one’s raising them.

Background

The initial “ParentEd” scope was altogether too broad, looking at big partnerships, designing the learning framework, and simultaneously figuring out how the idea could be taken to market. We worked closely with CFC to develop a more narrow curriculum that used proven behavioral modification methods to allow parents themselves to develop key social emotional learning skills even before applying them to their kids’ daily routines. While narrow in scope the audience was anything but narrow. What parent isn’t navigating mealtimes, bedtimes, and tantrums on a daily basis?

Through continued research and testing, we simplified a very complex and heavy application concept into it’s purest form. The previous projection for millions of dollars of investment needed before a launch was slashed and this allowed us to get something in parents’ hands much sooner and ultimately learn what worked and didn’t quite quickly.

Parachute website, showing parent and child with buttons to download on iOS and Android
Download Parachute at parentparachute.com

Initial Pilot

With the help of subject matter experts like renowned parent coach, Melissa Benaroya, LICSW, and pediatrician Zea Malawa, MD, MPH, we designed, engineered, and developed the video content for the first iteration of the application. Lightweight and prototypical, we targeted a small group of hand-picked and diverse users to participate in the initial pilot.

The pilot consisted of surveys and interviews with sourced participants to understand likes, dislikes, barriers, wants, and other investigation as to how something like this could benefit their home life. Our team also conducted a series of online usability tests and in person focus groups to better understand how were using or even initially reacting to the app.

Screen images of the Parent Parachute app

Iteration

After some more learning, user feedback, and looking at how people were using the app, we decided to explore a major refactor of the user experience which put daily routines at the center of the concept. Rather than the experience being essentially a linear curriculum, we’d help parents build daily structure and use content to help them do so.

Another extensive user testing exercise moved forward both validating the concept but also giving us even more insight into what is most useful to both parents and kids alike. We conducted a combination of focus groups, 1:1 user testing, and rapid prototyping. The prototype was quickly developed into a separate iOS app and given to test participants over the course of 4 weeks. We observed their behavior in the app and then met as a group weekly, discussing the changes we’d made and how they were panning out in real-life application. Through our prototyping, testing with gathered tons of insights to inform the future of the product, content, and features.

6 week iOS prototype designs
6 week iOS prototype

Building products that leave the world a little better is what we’re all about. Being able to combine known, established educational methodologies with a scrappy and experimental process is a rare opportunity and we’re grateful to have it.

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