School districts use LENA programs to improve kindergarten readiness, child outcomes


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 preschool. 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 practice-based 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.

Cherokee County School District in Gaffney, S.C., uses both LENA Home and LENA Start to boost kindergarten readiness in their district. As a community, they had come to realize the educational and economic importance of doing so. The data was obvious — the district’s youngest students were starting school with language and literacy scores that were well below average. Adopting both programs allowed them to match families to the program that best fit their needs.

Wayzata Public Schools in Wayzata, Minn., has added LENA Start to their Early Childhood and Family Education (ECFE) opportunities for community education. Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) is unique to Minnesota. This nationally-celebrated model supports the essential role of parents as their birth to 5-year-old children’s first and most important teachers.

Oakland Schools in Waterford Township, Mich., utilizes LENA Start in their Great Start Oakland initiative. Their vision is: Every Oakland County child is born healthy, developmentally on track, ready to succeed in school, and reading proficiently by third grade.

Austin ISD and Conroe ISD in Texas utilize LENA SP in their work with children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Through LENA SP’s detailed feedback reports, staff members are able to provide individualized feedback and supports to families to provide early intensive stimulation to facilitate the acquisition and development of early auditory, communication, language, speech, and cognitive skills.

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.”


The LENA Team is a dedicated group of professionals who are passionate about increasing awareness of the importance of early interactive talk. We are statisticians, speech-language pathologists, curriculum specialists, engineers, and linguists.

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