Between books, blogs, articles, DIY YouTube videos and your mother-in-law, there’s no shortage of parenting advice out there. Yet two Seattle entrepreneurs, Alanna Beebe and Julietta Skoog, have recently introduced an innovative offering into the fray: Sproutable, an online parenting course that uses as its core tool short, expository videos featuring real parents and kids, and which is rooted in the parenting philosophy known as Positive Discipline.
Parents or caregivers sign up for one of four age groups (Infant; Wobbler; Toddler; Preschool) and over the duration of the six-month course, are emailed new materials every week including a video, book recommendations, article links, and lists like “playroom stations” or “preschool scavenger hunt.” The course, which costs $249, is in pre-sale now, with the launch scheduled for mid- to late 2017. (Thanks to a partnership with Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, for every course purchased, Sproutable donates one to a family in need.)
Prior to launching Sproutable, CEO Alanna Beebe worked locally for 10 years in public health and early learning communications; she’s currently expecting her first child, which is what inspired her to start the venture. “I want to be the best parent I can be,” she says. “I knew where to start my research because of my work experience. However, when I looked for a mobile app or a website to find all this information in one place — and that was actually digestible — I couldn’t find it.” Meanwhile, her co-founder and Wallingford neighbor Julietta Skoog was running into a similar issue in the parent education classes she teaches (a mother of two young daughters, Skoog is also the school counselor at Queen Anne Elementary, where she specializes in autism, learning disabilities, and behavior disorders). In these classes, parents often asked for concrete examples of Positive Discipline, the philosophy she teaches, a program first popularized in the 1980s that, as Beebe puts it, “helps children feel a sense of significance and belonging through…empowerment, self-reliance and cooperation.”
And what’s more concrete than a how-to video? (Watch a sample video here about making dinner while caring for your baby. Along with the videos, another aspect that sets Sproutable’s content apart is the inclusion of scientific studies and research in addition to advice. Thus with a topic like temper tantrums, Sproutable addresses both how this behavior connects to the child’s brain development and how to deal with it from a practical standpoint, including examples of what to say (and not say), various parent-tested tricks and ways to infuse the situation with positive learning.
As Beebe puts it, “What does the science mean for parenting in everyday moments? What does it actually look like? How should I handle this particular situation? We couldn’t find anything out there that was making all of these connections via real video examples for parents.”
Other topics will include how to calm big emotions, using Positive Time Out Space, chores for young children, learning opportunities on neighborhood walks, grocery shopping with kids, and creating routines.
Everyone always says there’s no manual for parenthood. But this might be a start.