Since 2018, OPSR has supported the work of LENA (Language ENvironment Analysis), a national nonprofit that improves child outcomes through early talk, to boost school readiness in Oklahoma. LENA's mission is to help communities accelerate language development in children birth to three in order to improve their cognitive, social, and emotional health and to close opportunity gaps.
Babies are born learning. Singing, talking and engaging children as babies will build a child’s language skills long before they can talk or understand what is being said, providing a strong foundation for future learning and interactions with others. In fact, there are 2000 days between birth and kindergarten and 90 percent of the brain develops during this timeframe. This is an important period for parents, caregivers and teachers to provide newborns, babies and young children with nurturing and engaging experiences at home or in preschool.
Early talk helps young children build their brain power through interactions with adults. According to research by LENA, most adults overestimate how much they talk with children, and those who talk the least tend to overestimate the most. By focusing on early talk, parents, caregivers and teachers can tap into a child's ability to learn and provide those engaging experiences that are so vital to success.
LENA Grow is one of five data-gathering tools that transforms interactions in a child setting through experiential professional development. Measuring the most predictive elements of child outcomes, LENA Grow supports stakeholders at every level, helping teachers gain the skills to measurably improve classroom quality by boosting interactions and helping leadership make more informed planning and policy decisions.
LENA Grow couples talk pedometer technology with weekly coaching sessions. Children wear simple, comfortable cotton vests with a recorder inside (the talk pedometer technology) that tracks how many verbal interactions they encounter as well as how much a child is talking themselves. Then teachers gain insight that goes far beyond typical feedback, leading to quality improvement without adding tasks or burdens to their schedules.
Learn more about the impact LENA Grow made in 2019, online here.
OPSR worked with multiple early learning organizations across the state to introduce pilots of LENA Grow into the classroom. These pilots built teacher confidence, increased equity and improved teacher-child interactions.
During 2018, with the support of Public Service Company of Oklahoma and through funding provided by the American Electric Power Foundation, LENA Grow pilots were conducted at Tulsa Educare and Delaware Child Development Center.
Moving forward, in December 2019, OPSR initiated LENA Grow in classrooms at Special Care in Oklahoma City and Head Start in Stillwater.
“Seeing the results of LENA has given me confirmation as a teacher on what I’m doing right and some peace of mind when it comes to several of our kids who aren’t really verbal. Realizing that even the baby babble matters, it was a huge eye-opener,” Gardenia Celaya, Special Care.