A toddler at the Porter-Leath Early Childhood Academy talks with her teacher. She's part of LENA Grow, which trains early childhood educators to build their students' conversation skills as a way to improve long-term learning success. (Forever Ready)
A 10-year study found that the number of back-and-forth conversation exchanges a child averages from ages 18-24 months still correlates to reading, language, and cognitive abilities in middle school. Low-income children, children who experience family instability, and children whose mothers who did not graduate college complete significantly fewer exchanges.
Early childhood educators can help fill those gaps. In their toolkit are tiny vests worn by their students that record and report conversation exchanges with caregivers.
LENA Grow is a 10-week training course for early childhood educators that teaches them how in increase the number of conversations they have with their 0 to 3 year-old students.
Related: "Gift of gab: Frayser children reach for kindergarten readiness before they learn to talk"
Early Childhood Academies from High Ground News on Vimeo.
Support for this story was provided in part by the Urban Child Institute as part of an ongoing series highlighting the importance of early childhood education and intervention. UCI focuses its support and advocacy on kindergarten readiness and third-grade literacy in an effort to improve education, health, and well-being of children and families in Shelby County.