BETHESDA, Md., Feb. 22, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Students at a central Virginia child care center are on a path to enhanced literacy and school readiness thanks to an innovative technology and coaching program that lets teachers monitor, analyze, and understand how their words impact language development for young learners, using wearable technology that measures talk the way fitness trackers measure physical activity.
According to a study released by early childhood curriculum pioneer Teaching Strategies, children at Rappahannock's Child Care & Learning Center were exposed to an average of 1,100 additional adult words per day by the end of a recent, four-month pilot program.
The pilot, which utilized wearable technology to capture the amount of interactive language experienced by children, builds on decades of research showing that increased language exposure at an early age impacts the development of a child's language proficiency, vocabulary, and readiness for school.
The technology, called Language Environment Analysis (LENA), works like a "talk-pedometer," capturing and analyzing speech to measure the number of words a child hears. LENA can also detect the number of "conversational turns," when caregivers wait for--and respond to--the speech of children. Recent research has confirmed that conversational turns tie to other qualitative measures of speech and are a stronger predictor of early brain development than number of adult words alone. In the pilot, children experienced an average increase of 59 more conversational turns per day.
"The program was an eye-opener for us," said Lisa Pendleton, Director of the Child Care & Learning Center. "The research results show that children learn not just through our lesson plans, but also through our conversations about what we are doing while we do it."
During the pilot, children wore a small LENA device in the pocket of a vest for one full day each week, gathering audio that could be processed into data about talk, provided in easy-to-read, actionable reports. The reports were reviewed by educators, in partnership with a Teaching Strategies coach. The personalized coaching program helped educators master strategies to increase linguistic interactions through regular feedback on the frequency and quality of the talk in their classrooms. The audio collected can never be listened to, and is deleted as soon as it is processed to ensure privacy.
"We're thrilled with the results we have seen in the pilot," said Dr. Stephen Hannon, president of LENA. "LENA Grow is an efficient way to bring awareness of interactive talk to child care teachers so they can help their kids even more effectively. Pre-K programs help close gaps, but that age is often too late for many kids, so we're happy to establish a solution that can make a real difference at the earlier ages."
Early educators who participated in the program utilized Teaching Strategies' Creative Curriculum for Infants, Toddlers & Twos in order to better understand and strengthen the connection between their use of words and their students' language development.
"If it wasn't for LENA, I wouldn't have picked up that one of my students didn't communicate as much as the others," said one educator who participated in the pilot. "I am thrilled to know how I can make a difference with what I've learned through this program."
The Creative Curriculum for Infants, Toddlers & Twos provides a research-based framework for developmentally appropriate programing to support quality care, offering guidance for routines and experiences with young learners and providing teachers with the tools necessary to nurture language-rich routines and meaningful experiences.
"Nearly 20 years ago, we launched The Creative Curriculum for Infants, Toddlers & Twos to help caretakers of our youngest children create meaningful, developmentally appropriate learning experiences," said Kai-leé Berke, CEO of Teaching Strategies. "The research makes clear that exposure to new vocabulary and complex sentences is critical to that development. This new program continues that legacy, giving educators and caretakers what they need to make the most of each moment with young children."
To learn more, visit https://teachingstrategies.com/solutions/teach/lena-grow-research-pilot/.
About Teaching Strategies: With ground-breaking solutions and a strong belief that a child's first 8 years form a critical foundation for school success, Teaching Strategies has been an advocate for the early education community for over 25 years. Today, Teaching Strategies provides curriculum, assessment, professional development, and family connection resources to programs across the country. Its award-winning products like The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool and widely-adopted assessment solutions like GOLD® reach over 2 million children each year. To learn why thousands of early childhood programs and many states choose to partner with Teaching Strategies to help ensure children's success in school and in life, visit www.teachingstrategies.com and follow us on Twitter @TeachStrategies.
About LENA: LENA is a 501(c)(3) public charity based in Boulder, Colorado. Its mission is to accelerate language development in children birth to three, in order to improve their cognitive, social, and emotional health and to close opportunity gaps. Used by researchers and clinicians all over the world, LENA technology measures a child's language environment and provides actionable feedback to parents and professionals in programs dedicated to closing the language learning and opportunity gap for children. To learn more about LENA, please visit www.lena.org and find us on Twitter @LENAEarlyTalk.
SOURCE Teaching Strategies