What if we looked at early childhood education as an extension of “school”?
Neuroscience research shows us that the first years of a child’s life are the most critical period for brain development, when the foundation of all language and literacy skills are built. To put this research into action, school districts around the country are increasingly investing in the early years to give children an equitable start long before kindergarten.
During a webinar on May 20, we explored how Bourbonnais School District 53 in Illinois launched LENA Home and LENA Grow to support their earliest learners: infants and toddlers. (Stream here!) They’re one of several school districts around the country using LENA to improve outcomes for children:
Huntsville City Schools has served about 400 families with LENA Start parent-group classes and maintained an 83 percent graduation rate. Initial longitudinal evaluation results show that children whose families participated demonstrated considerably higher early literacy scores than their peers two years after the program and were far more likely to be at an advanced literacy level entering pre-K. The district serves 24,000 students in Huntsville, Ala.
Fort Worth ISD implemented LENA Grow in four early learning classrooms during the 2018-2019 school year to help ensure the district’s youngest students were receiving high-quality language development support. The district serves 86,000 students in Fort Worth, Texas. Classrooms that used LENA Grow, a job-embedded professional development program for early childhood teachers, increased scores in key CLASS domains compared to classrooms that did not use the program, a pre-post evaluation showed.
St. Vrain Valley Schools, which serves 32,000 students in Longmont, Colo., has partnered with the Outreach United Resource Center (OUR Center) to offer LENA Start classes for families. The program is implemented as part of the Small Talk, Big Results initiative in St. Vrain Valley Schools, and places a strong emphasis on reading with young children and face-to-face engagement. St. Vrain and the OUR Center are partners in implementing the project, combining space, staffing, and funding resources.
Wichita Falls ISD added LENA Home to their Parents as Teachers home-visiting program after identifying early language as a key focus area. Wichita Falls ISD serves 14,000 students and their families, including many who live at the local air force base. About 62 percent of students in the district are eligible for free and reduced lunch. They are one of five partner sites in the state using LENA Home under the leadership of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
To learn more about how school districts are using LENA programs for teachers and families, please download our new white paper, “School districts put neuroscience research into action for their youngest learners.”