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Tech Goes Home: Learning Together

Family Completed TGH Program

Mother and sons proudly flash the tablet they receieved at the Tech Goes Home graduation.

Mother and daughter using an iPadMother and daughter explore technology together through the Tech Goes Home program.
Tech Goes Home Graduation Ceremony

TGH 2015 graduates gather for a ceremony to recognize their accomplishments.

Look around while you are walking down the street or using public transportation―technology is a dominant force in our everyday lives. Cellphones, iPods, Kindles, tablets: It seems everyone is connected to something. While one could easily assume that mobile and home-based computer access to the Internet is universal, an estimated 100 million Americans have no access to a computer or the Internet at home. One Boston-based organization is trying to do something about that.

Tech Goes Home (TGH), an initiative out of Open Air Boston, connects low-income, underserved communities to affordable technology. The goal is to provide the opportunities, tools, education, and access required of students to be prepared for a global society. Families enroll in a 15-hour course to learn how technology can improve their quality of living and take part in lessons on résumé building, establishing a professional email account, and learning to locate educational websites. At graduation, participants are provided a personal computer or tablet, theirs to keep, and can connect to home Internet access for a fraction of the market price. Since it began in 2000, Tech Goes Home has spread its work into four domains: TGH Connecting Boston, TGH Small Business, TGH School and Community, and TGH Early Childhood.

At Boston Public Schools’ Hayne Early Education Center, TGH Early Childhood staff meets with more than one hundred families every school year to teach computer basics and computer literacy skills to parents and preschoolers using interactive educational apps. This specific program aims to support parents/caregivers, teachers, and preschools as they prepare children and families for kindergarten by focusing on student readiness, parent engagement, and educator preparedness.


  • To encourage parents and children to work together toward a shared technology goal;
  • To enhance the relationship between parents and teachers;
  • To help children improve their academic performance;
  • To help adults acquire 21st-century technology skills; and
  • To empower children and adults to advocate for themselves and their community.




Tech Goes Home encourages anywhere, anytime learning by intentionally replacing young children’s passive screen time with educational screen time. TGH guides parents through the process of identifying educational websites and apps that span art and music to math and science, such as those offered by Khan Academy and Common Sense Media, two organizations featured in our own The Holidays Are Here. Which Apps Will You Share with the Children In Your Life? While allowing children to use digital media can be scary—particularly for parents who are using the technology for the first time—Tech Goes Home looks to organizations such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) for direction, advocating that “with guidance, these various technology tools can be harnessed to enhance learning and development.”1

The TGH Model prides itself on its co-learning strategy, which offers opportunities for families and children to learn together. As parents learn alongside their children, TGH staff members model how parents can ask questions while their children use the computers as a way of staying involved in their children’s learning, digital and otherwise. Parents are encouraged to ask probing questions, such as, What are we about to do? What other words start with that sound? How did you even out the seesaw? What words to you think we will see when we click this letter H? What should we try next?” The staff believes in cultivating and strengthening the parent-child relationship and subscribe to the principle that parents need to know what their child knows. Additionally, the children understand that their computer and Internet use is monitored by their family, keeping them safe and guiding them.

Tech Goes Home believes in building the capacity of community members as well as families. For example, the TGH Early Childhood Program trains preschool teachers to serve as TGH leads meaning that they will provide technical training directly to parents—eliminating the need for TGH staff as intermediaries. The result is more face time between parents and teachers and a sense that they are all supporting children’s learning together, as teammates.

As TGH celebrates 15 years of good work, the staff members reflect that in addition to increasing access to and fluency with technology, they are seeing other unexpected positive outcomes: 90% of adult graduates say their children’s schoolwork has improved and 80% of adult graduates feel they have developed stronger relationships with their children’s teachers and schools.

Though TGH hopes to expand its clientele and geographic outreach in the future, its current clients are 90% people of color and 40% English language learners who live in Boston, New York City, New Mexico, Alabama, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

1National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2012). Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8. Retrieved from


As a graduate research assistant at Harvard Family Research Project, Laura Alves works on projects for the Family Involvement Network of Educators (FINE) and the Parent University Network. Laura holds an Ed.M. in Education Policy and Management from Harvard Graduate School of Education.



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Published by Harvard Family Research Project