Preliminary analysis conducted by LENA’s research team shows that children participating in LENA Grow during the COVID-19 pandemic gained nearly 1.5 months’ worth of language skills in just one month’s time, achieving developmental milestones at an accelerated rate compared to a sample of children who did not participate in the program.
For those children who started the program with below-average language skills, the growth was even more dramatic. They gained 1.8 months’ worth of language development for every month between their assessments. The children who did not participate in LENA Grow, on the other hand, met their milestones at an average rate, gaining the typical one month’s skills in one month’s time.
LENA’s Developmental Snapshot was used to track participating children’s progress. The Developmental Snapshot is a 52-item questionnaire that allows parents to monitor their infants’ and toddlers’ progress in acquiring language skills and to better recognize language milestones. LENA researchers’ peer-reviewed study of the Developmental Snapshot was published in the journal Child Language Teaching and Therapy in 2016.
The analysis was conducted in coordination with a number of LENA Grow partners, including the Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative, the Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties, Fla., the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County, Fla., and the University of Memphis’s Coordinated Effort to Enhance Development (CEED) program.
Growing evidence of LENA Grow’s positive impact
These results add to mounting evidence demonstrating LENA Grow’s impact on positive outcomes for individual children and entire classrooms alike.
In 2020, for instance, researchers at the University of Kansas’s Juniper Gardens Children’s Project found that 82% of children in LENA Grow classrooms were assessed to be “on track” in their expressive language abilities at the end of the program, compared to just 38% of a comparison group.
Likewise, in 2019, the Fort Worth Independent School District saw dramatic increases in CLASS scores among LENA Grow classrooms. In the CLASS dimensions of Quality Feedback and Language Modeling, for instance, LENA Grow teachers saw an average increase of 47% and 29%, respectively. Teachers who did not participate in LENA Grow experienced increased of only 5% and 4% in those CLASS dimensions.
And in 2021, LENA’s researchers partnered with the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County, Fla., to find comparable increases in TS GOLD scores among LENA Grow classrooms.
These results are consistent with qualitative data as well, as 94% of LENA Grow teachers say they saw positive changes in language development with children participating in LENA Grow.
Also consistent with previous LENA Start results
This pilot data of LENA Grow’s impact on early language development comes on the heels of a two-year study examining the links between another of LENA’s programs, LENA Start, and accelerated language skills as revealed by the Developmental Snapshot.
The children in that analysis showed increased language skills one year after their parents had participated in LENA Start, gaining nearly two months of developmental skill every month. Importantly, those gains endured for the longer term as well, two years after the program had concluded.
Encouraged by this preliminary data of 34 children in the treatment group and six children in the control group, LENA’s research team anticipates having more robust results to report in the summer of 2022.
In partnership with two LENA Grow partners — South Side Early Learning in Columbus, Oh., and Next Door Milwaukee — LENA is conducting a thorough evaluation of LENA Grow’s impact on both children and teachers. South Side Early Learning launched their first LENA Grow programs in late 2021. Next Door Milwaukee first brought LENA Grow to their child care centers in 2019, having now served nearly 200 children and 50 teachers.