There’s a favorite story that LENA’s founder, Terry Paul, loved to tell. A man is walking along a beach, where hundreds of starfish have washed up on the sand after a storm, putting them back into the ocean.
“What’s the point?” a stranger asks. “You can’t throw them all back in.”
The man smiles, picks up another starfish, and sets it back into the waves.
“I made a difference for that one.”
This year, the LENA team reached an important milestone: we served more than 10,000 children. Because of our work, and through collaboration with more than 200 dedicated partner sites worldwide, these children experienced more brain-building conversational turns. The turns metric is our proxy for quality serve and return interaction, and recent research has connected turns to children’s short- and long-term developmental outcomes. In fact, we measured more than 14 million conversational turns this year.
We saw the evidence continue to compound in many ways, from the first longitudinal study of LENA Start participants — which shows that children whose parents graduated from the program had improved literacy skills two years later — to assessments of LENA Grow, which found higher CLASS scores in early childhood classrooms that used the program.
In addition, there are now more than 100 peer-reviewed journal publications using LENA technology, including an exciting study specifically linking conversational turns to brain growth and reading skills.
I’m so proud of our team for putting in the hard work to attain these incredible outcomes and reach our “Impact10K” goal for this year. Since January, we’ve expanded the team to support growing and scaling our impact, including new team members in Colorado as well as Virginia, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.
As we grow, we’ll strive to stay true to our values and work towards an even more ambitious goal: reaching 100,000 children in 2023. We won’t get there without your continued collaboration and support. I invite you to explore a few of the ways to get involved: watch a webinar on the latest research or implementation best practices, spread the word to your network about the importance of early talk, or consider bringing a LENA program to your community.
I’m thoroughly excited about the road ahead. For every child we support in experiencing more nourishing language and interactions, we can confidently say, “it made a difference to that one.”
We wish you the best this holiday season.
Steve and the entire LENA Team
In Memoriam: This post is dedicated to Luigi Bojan, a key member of our staff who lost his battle with cancer in November. Luigi was a great engineer with a wonderful background and skill set which he used to improve LENA technology, championing disciplined innovation. Luigi is acutely missed, and we honor his memory and significant contributions as we move forward on our shared mission.