2020 wasn’t the year we planned for.
As an organization and as individuals, our goals and dreams for this year shifted after the coronavirus pandemic arrived at our doorsteps. Yet, we’ve adapted, and the pivots have had impressive outcomes.
This spring, when our partners paused programming as stay-at-home orders rolled in, we pivoted to begin offering engagement resources directly to families. We drew on both our personal and professional experience to create these resources, as we too had made the shift to working remotely and staying at home. We quickly adapted our programs for parents and teachers, adding virtual implementation options into LENA Start 3.0 and new virtual coaching supports into LENA Grow. We also released new software called LENA Family Hub to make it easy for families to upload their LENA Days directly from home.
This summer, we watched with pride as our partners navigated the launch of these virtual programs, recognizing the urgency in serving children and families who had lost access to their usual systems of support. Parents and families from disparate communities were eager to connect and engage virtually with peers, demonstrating resilience and optimism.
This fall, we welcomed more than a dozen new partners into the LENA family who recognize the fundamental role early talk plays in building strong, responsive relationships that protect children from the effects of adversity. They are eager and ready to transform their cities into early literacy incubators.
Around the world, the work continues. It looks different now — families are connecting through Zoom and FaceTime, and teachers are improving practice through video coaching and digital reports — but it continues. We are humbled and encouraged by the tireless efforts of our partners, who have figured out how to listen to caregivers, build relationships, and support increased interaction despite new barriers.
As we head into a winter filled with uncertainty, I encourage you to take time to pause. Reflect on the good that’s come out of this year. Remind yourself of the people who have shown gratitude for your persistence. Set your intention for the new year. Rest and restore yourself so that you’ll be able to navigate through whatever comes next. We’re reaching the 9-month mark of the pandemic marathon, and it’s time to take a break.
"As we head into a winter filled with uncertainty, I encourage you to take time to pause. Reflect on the good that’s come out of this year. Remind yourself of the people who have shown gratitude for your persistence. Set your intention for the new year."
To that end, LENA’s office will be closed from December 23-January 1 as we take time to unplug and unwind. We’ll see you back here in January 2021 — a new year, with new hopes, new dreams, and new goals to pursue. Chief among them for us is continuing to make progress towards our goal of reaching 100,000 children annually by 2024.
Early interactions are the primary building block of all the learning that follows in a child’s life and are fuel for the road toward a more just society. They build pre-literacy and pre-math skills, create a strong social and emotional foundation, and increase a child’s ability to communicate her own needs, reducing both challenging behaviors and caregiver stress in the process. Caregivers play vital roles now more than ever, and all teachers and families need to be championed. I welcome you to join us in the new year, as we get back to work with refreshed spirits and a renewed sense of urgency around supporting caregivers and preparing children for success in school.