Virginia Beach family increases two-generation, bilingual engagement with children through LENA Start

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In the fall of 2018, the Ochoa family moved across the country from California to Virginia.

José, Kimberly, and their two children, Stella and Oliver, began settling into life in Virginia Beach. They moved in with Kimberly’s parents, and began attending LENA Start classes at the recommendation of her sister, a teacher at a local elementary school.

Ochoa Family“We learned so much about the benefits that an infant or newborn could get from talking,” Kimberly said. “We learned about the science of everything — the neurons flickering and firing in their brains and how they pick up on what we’re saying. It was really, really interesting to learn about that.”

Though both parents already talked frequently with the children, they began to look for new ways to engage them in conversation. One of the 14 Talking Tips, “Get down on their level,” proved to be particularly useful.

“We didn’t realize that we were talking over the kids before,” Kimberly said. “It really opened up our eyes big time to start getting down on their eye level, face-to-face.”

The weekly feedback reports guided their attention to times of day when talk was lower, leading Kimberly to boost her conversation efforts in the mornings and share the tips with her own parents, who were often around the children during the day.

“The reports were really cool — we would get so excited to see the words and turns,” she said.

The LENA Start classes also emphasized talking in both English and Spanish, which the Ochoas realized was especially important in their new location, where the children were around fewer native Spanish speakers.

“Over in California, there was Spanish all around the kids, so we didn’t have to worry about it,” Kimberly said. “But they don’t have that exposure here. My husband realized he’s the only one who can give that to them. This program has really opened up his eyes on how important it is for him to speak Spanish to our children.”

Read more about how Virginia Beach is using LENA programs in this article from The Virginian-Pilot.

LENA Team

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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