Image

Build school readiness and strengthen families with parent-group classes.

Measurable outcomes delivered through a scalable, ready-to-launch community program.

LENA Start is a program for parents that uses regular feedback from LENA technology to help increase interactive talk in order to close the early-talk gap, support kindergarten readiness, and build stronger families.

Over the course of 10 weekly sessions, parents and caregivers learn about the importance of interactive talk along with ways to incorporate more conversation into their daily routines. As home language environments are transformed, communities are transformed, and an early-language focus builds to city-wide impact.

LENA Start supports outreach to parents and caregivers of children ages 0-3 through five integrated elements:

English/Spanish book icon

An engaging, bilingual curriculum

teaches parents brain-building talk skills by leveraging instructional videos, peer-group sharing, printed resources, and self reflection.
Explore the curriculum.

14 Talking Tips icon

The 14 Talking Tips

integrate easily into daily routines and help participants boost interactive talk throughout the day.
Download a copy.

LENA technology icon

LENA technology

accurately measures the amount of talk in a child’s environment and creates easy-to-understand feedback reports for caregivers. 
Learn more.

The LENA Online™ portal

simplifies program administration and provides real-time insight into each family’s progress, supporting individualized coaching.

Training, data analysis, and ongoing support

are provided by dedicated LENA staff to help ensure successful implementations with high fidelity.

English/Spanish book icon

An engaging, bilingual curriculum teaches parents brain-building talk skills by leveraging instructional videos, peer-group sharing, printed resources, and self reflection. Explore the curriculum.

14 Talking Tips icon

The 14 Talking Tips integrate easily into daily routines and help  participants boost interactive talk throughout the day. Download a copy.

LENA technology icon

LENA technology accurately measures the amount of talk in a child’s environment and creates easy-to-understand feedback reports for caregivers. Learn more.

The LENA Online™ portal simplifies program administration and provides real-time insight into each family’s progress, supporting individualized coaching.

Training, data analysis, and ongoing support are provided by dedicated LENA staff to help ensure successful implementations with high fidelity.

Build a two-generation approach to community engagement.


LENA Start helps parents promote and participate in their child’s learning. Feedback-based educational content helps parents advance their own learning interests, and the peer model builds social well-being and community.

Families have the opportunity to connect with each other, building social capital in their local community, before dropping their children off in provided child care and heading to class. Through a partnership with First Book, LENA Start builds home libraries by giving every family a book at each session.

One of the things that speaks to me about this program is the community that we’re building with our parents. We have classes full of parents from every corner of the city that wouldn’t usually come together.

Susan Hunsecker, School Readiness Specialist for Huntsville City Schools

What makes LENA Start unique?


Interventions with large populations often hit two roadblocks: excessive complexity and inconsistent implementation. LENA Start avoids these traps by focusing on a single goal — improving talk between parents and children.

LENA Start takes a cost-effective and scalable approach by delivering LENA feedback and strategies to increase talk to groups of parents, particularly targeting high-need families. Staffing needs are reduced, while impact is increased. Effective implementation is ensured by delivering the program through videos and scripted instruction — and by continuous data feedback.


The data shows parents how impactful they can be. LENA provides a visible way for us to demonstrate to parents that they’re increasing conversations, and reading time, and all the other things we’re already sharing with parents through PAT.

Patti Learman, Program Director for Parents as Teachers in Guilford County, NC

Impacts and outcomes


Over the course of the LENA Start program, parents and caregivers are given feedback on how much they’re talking with their children. Built-in effectiveness measures indicate that, though their work with LENA Start, adults are talking more and children are increasing language skills as a result.

percentile gain in
adult words

percentile gain in
conversational turns

Children participating in LENA Start gain nearly two months of developmental skill every month.

How are communities using LENA Start to build early talk?


Together, school districts, libraries, healthcare systems, and community- based nonprofits across the country have reached more than 2,800 children and families through LENA Start. Check out our interactive map of program partners and explore some of their unique impact stories:


Ready to bring the power of early talk to families in your community?

To begin, read our guide to launching a new LENA program. Our highly-rated program implementation process and ongoing support will ensure your success with LENA Start.

In 2020, we are excited to be able to offer Launch Funds to selected partner communities launching new LENA Start programs. Read more about the requirements, application process, and important deadlines on the LENA Start Launch Funds Application page.

Get started!