Implementing a Parenting Curriculum Using Implementation Science: Exploration Stage

This resource is part of a series developed to support programs in successfully implementing a parenting curriculum. In this resource, learn about the exploration stage of implementation science.

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Little boy looking through binocularsExploration Stage Key Tasks

The exploration stage is a time to collect information about the strengths, interests, and needs of parents and families in your community. Your program can review the different curricula available. During this stage, your program will also bring together the team that will guide and carry out implementation.

Program Task

Assemble an implementation team. Select a team of people who will work together to explore options and eventually implement a chosen curriculum. When selecting team members, think about each person’s availability and unique skills. Be sure to choose a diverse group with different kinds of knowledge to contribute. Team members can include center directors, teachers, professors, program coordinators, parents, community partners, and others. This team will have a number of key tasks.

Implementation Team Tasks

Create a plan. Engage your implementation team to develop a plan that defines the team’s purpose, goals, responsibilities, and guidelines for how the team members will work together. This plan should describe the roles of the members of the team and the process for adding members as needed. The plan should also outline how decisions will be made, how meetings will be led, and how members can communicate and share information. 

Prepare for data collection. Seek input from a variety of stakeholders to inform your assessment of parents’ strengths, needs, and interests in the following ways: 

Exploration Stage Checklist

  • Assemble an implementation team
  • Create a plan
  • Prepare for data collection
  • Collect data
  • Aggregate and analyze data
  • Identify potential parenting curricula
  • Determine fit and feasibility of the curriculum
  • Choose a parenting curriculum
  • Think about what you want to know and the data you will need
  • Review what you already know and the data you already have
  • Consider the questions that will reveal the strengths and needs of parents in your program
  • Determine the methods you will use for collecting data (e.g., surveys, interviews, or focus groups)

Collect data. Look at your program assessment data, community assessment data, proposed program goals, and expected outcomes within the five-year project period. Choose data collection methods and use these to gather information from your implementation team members and program staff. Talk directly to parents in your program to get a clear understanding of the parenting skills or knowledge they would like to gain. Gather input from community partners about their ideas as well as about options that may already exist in the community.

Aggregate and analyze data. Look for common themes, different perspectives, and recurring issues. After you assess the data, create a list of criteria for ensuring that parenting curricula support your program’s goals and vision. Now you are ready to explore potential parenting curricula that align with the findings from your analysis.

Identify potential parenting curricula. Use available resources and websites to find and research parenting curricula that best fit your program. Some of these resources and websites are listed at the end of this resource. Reach out to other programs that are already implementing a parenting curriculum for information about their experience. 

Determine fit and feasibility of the curriculum. “Fit” refers to how well a parenting curriculum aligns with a program or community’s priorities and values. “Feasibility” refers to the capacity of a program to implement the curriculum as intended by the developer. As your implementation team explores different curricula, consider using the Hexagon Tool (Figure 1. below) to rate each possible curriculum. You can use this scoring system to assess curricula along six categories: 

  1. Needs of individuals. How well does the curriculum meet the identified strengths, interests, and needs of parents in your program? 
  2. Fit. How well does the curriculum fit with your program’s current goals, initiatives, priorities, structures and supports, and parent/community values? 
  3. Resource availability. Does your program have all of the necessary resources to implement the curriculum with fidelity? Resources may include training, staffing, technology supports, data systems, and administrative support. 
  4. Evidence. How conclusive is the evidence or documentation that the curriculum, when implemented as the developer intended, will deliver the expected outcomes? 
  5. Readiness for replication. How successfully has the curriculum been implemented by others? For example, can the developer provide examples of sites that are implementing the curriculum for your program to observe? How well can the lessons and strategies that are taught through the curriculum be applied in practice? 
  6. Capacity to implement. Does your program have the capacity to implement the curriculum as intended, and to sustain and improve implementation over time? For example, do you have the physical space to hold sessions? Are staff available to deliver the curriculum? Do they know about the topics included in the curriculum?

Each member of the implementation team should assess the parenting curriculum under consideration. The implementation team members should then take the time to compare and discuss their assessments together.

Choose a parenting curriculum. After analyzing each curriculum, the implementation team can use the priorities, goals, and vision that were set with parents in the program to select a curriculum. Your program may consider implementing more than one curriculum, given your program goals.

A thorough exploration can help your program choose the right curriculum for your families. The exploration stage also can provide insights to help you prepare for the next phase of implementation: installation.

Implementing a Parenting Curriculum Using Implementation Science Series

Explore other resources in this series:

Additional Resources

An Integrated Stage-Based Framework for Implementation of Early Childhood Programs and Systems  

California Evidence-based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare—Selecting and Implementing Evidence-Based Practices: A Guide for Child and Family Serving Systems

Choosing a Parenting Curriculum for Your Program

Compendium of Parenting Interventions

Exploring Parenting Curricula Options

Implementing a Parenting Curriculum Using Implementation Science: Webinar Series

Implementing Parenting Interventions in Early Care and Education Settings: A Guidebook for Implementation

Parenting Curricula Review Databases

National Implementation Research Network’s (NIRN) Active Implementation Hub— Modules 

National Implementation Research Network’s (NIRN) Active Implementation Hub—Resource Library Listing

National Implementation Science Network—Stages of Implementation Analysis: Where Are We?

Adapted from Implementing Parenting Interventions in Early Care and Education Settings: A Guidebook for Implementation.

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Figure 1

Exploration Stage - The Hexagon Tool



Keywords:Parenting curriculum

Resource Type: Publication

Last Updated: January 3, 2019