Writer: JMDLiu Qiuli
Translation and deletion： JMD Siyi、MAMAUCAN
“Your baby has been 5 years 10 months and 4 weeks old.”
“You don’t have to schedule an IQ test for your baby, because your baby’s IQ is still developing and unstable at this stage. There isn’t a lot of strong evidence either way, the idea that mothers' genes are the main determinant of their children's intelligence is most likely not true.
Besides, it’s nonsense to say that girls are less smart than boys.”
How Could Grandparents from Rural Areas to Educate Their Babies, An Application Has Been developed for Them.
But how to engage parents from rural areas in early childhood education?
Lan Yi, the founder of Mamaucan（River of life Co.,Ltd.）, together with his team found that instead of complex lectures, every day’s audio message reminder is much more efficient. Therefore, they designed and developed Mamaucan, a mobile phone application MVP for helping parents without enough knowledge to take care of the little kids. Focusing on 0 to 6-year-old children, all the materials in the application were selected strictly, telling parents and grandparents directly what they need to do every day through audio messages.
Now, over 10,000 audio messages have been involved in Mamaucan with different versions like mandarin and other dialect and ethnic languages including Uyghur, Tibetan, Cantonese, Shandong, Sichuan, etc. Lan Yi and his team are dedicated to spreading the early childhood education knowledge nationwide, especially to the rural areas in the west of China. And many “interesting” stories happened in the marketing process.
“It’s hard for us to interact with parents in local areas, because they cannot easily trust strangers.” To reassure parents, Mamaucan team changed the marketing strategy into offline, they reached out to some key opinion consumers among the parents, then promoted the application based on the word-of -mouth marketing strategies. Plus, the team invited experts to give the parents lectures. “Barrier-free” is the word Lan Yi often says, he hopes that regardless of educational background or income, parents can get the early childhood education knowledge without limitation.
0-6 years old is the key period for a child’s growth. Lan Yi wants to design an early childhood education phone application for the rural area parents because of the great gap in this field between city center and the rural area.
how much do the rural area parents know about the early childhood education? What knowledge do they need? what would be the best way for the parents to receive the knowledge?
In order to get what the parents need correctly, Mamaucan team did a lot of researches. their target population including not only rural area parents and volunteers but also parents living in the city center. They found that the rural area parents are significantly different. For example, for language study, the parents in the city center would like their children start learning speaking English at 3 years old. But in Mamaucan for the rural area parent parenting, they only require the baby in 2-3 years old to learn speaking simple sentence. For physical health, rural area parents are more focus on the physical strength, but parents living in the city center would focus more on the balance of the body.
The materials in Mamaucan Application follows the principles as follows: from the children’s perspective, they choose the content that are match with the law of education. From the parents’ perspective, they intentionally add the part which the rural area parents are lack of but essentially need to be emphasized in cognitive level such as sex education. On the Application, there are the materials of feeding, early education, behavioral psychology, each takes 30% portion with simple and easy understanding language.
Mamaucan team have made a lot of efforts to make sure the accuracy of their materials. Lan Yi was once the director in China Education Improving Institute, he had many education experts resources. Xiaowei Ke, the early childhood education expert, was invited as the consultant, helping to choose the materials for Mamaucan Application among more than 1000 books and 600 experts’ lectures. Besides, they also invited the experts who are good at medical health and psychology to get together to review the materials. It lasted for more than 1 year after changing 6 times to tailor the materials. Now the materials on Mamaucan Application has been applied for the intellectual copyright.
“Only simple can be used”
Compare to other applications launched for early childhood education, simple is the significant characteristic of Mamaucan Application. The interface is very succinct, including three different sections. The homepage is the calendar, including new calendar and lunar calendar. The Lunar calendar is for the grandparent who are used to the lunar calendar. They can get today’s parenting audio messages by simply clicking on the date. In the expert interface, they arrange the material by age in gradient structure: pregnancy-1 year old, 1-2 years old, 2-3 years old, 3-6 years old, in total 4 stage of time. the contents include: baby care, parenting games, behavior psychology, and misunderstanding in early childhood education. In the third section, people can look for their favorite audios and ask for advices.
Mamaucan was trying to add some personalized features like audio Q & A, search engine and so on. But after the testing, they had to cut of the search engine function, because there are only 5% users have used search engine function and the content they wrote in the search engine kept having problems like wrong spelling, too colloquial, or the questions cannot be accurately defined.
Lan Yi said, according to the feedback, the amount of materials on Mamaucan Application is appropriated for the parents to follow. But there are also some parents¸ after they use the Application for a while, they thought the materials are a little bit easy. There were even parents calling Lan Yi saying that they want to learn more as well and asking if the team can develop more course in the application?
In fact, there are some parents showed that they would like to pay for education, and they have the financial ability, but they are lack of motivation for paying for early childhood education product.
After home visit, Lan Yi found out, there are parents would like to spend hundreds to buy for their grandparents. Because in non-high-income families and regions, babies and toddlers are raised by the elderly. Young parents must go to work or be unable to support the family.
If one is an ordinary family mother in a developing region, she would not be able to afford to hire a nanny , and she couldn’t give up her career and becomes a full-time wife too (some have mortgages). Therefore, the elders play the role in feeding and educating infants.Young parents have a strong pay wish to help the elderly raise their children better and more scientific. The elderly also hope to adapt to modern parenting methods, such as how to feed their grandchildren with milk powder and when to vaccinate (They have to). However, the elderly are getting older, have poor memory, and lower education. They face great responsibilities and pressures and lack the confidence to raise grandchildren, but their needs are not taken seriously.
Mamaucan team found, about 80% of rural families & low-and-mid-income families, grand-parents have to take care of their grandchildren in China. Finally Mamaucan team adjusted its direction and found the PMF&PIF（Product Impact Fit）.
But Mamaucan team have to admit that their project is only at a very early stage，it’s still a long way to go to deliver the early childhood education knowledge and the grandparents helper to every corner.