San Mateo County Launches Initiative to Improve Early Learning

Share Article

County Library Adopts LENA Start™ Model to Help Parents Bridge the Talk Gap, Improve Home Language Environment for Children 0-30 Months

Patented LENA technology records language throughout a child’s day, then translates the recording into data that show parents how much they’re talking so they can improve, and how they are progressing

“The LENA Start model is laser-focused on simple, practical ways to help parents improve talk with their babies,” said Dr. Stephen Hannon, president of the LENA Research Foundation.

San Mateo County Library and the LENA Research Foundation have announced an initiative to address the cycle of poverty by encouraging parents to increase the quantity and quality of language spoken with their children. LENA Start™ features parent classes in English and Spanish that employ LENA “talk pedometer” technology to measure home language, plus the foundation’s Smarter Happier Baby™ program to improve language interaction skills. The program will kick off in May in East Palo Alto and Half Moon Bay, with plans to expand.

Smarter Happier Baby classes help parents of infants and toddlers (0-30 months) close the “talk gap.” Research indicates that achievement gaps result because underprivileged children tend to experience millions fewer words and conversations than more affluent children during these critical early years, when babies’ brains are growing to 80% of their adult size. Smarter Happier Baby provides a short series of instructional meetings where parents learn to use the LENA System™ to monitor the home language environment, and how to use techniques to improve the quantity and quality of adult-child talk.

“We’re very excited to be the premiere public implementation of LENA Start and Smarter Happier Baby,” said Carole Groom, San Mateo County Supervisor and Library JPA Governing Board Chair. “It’s well known that increasing conversations between parents and young children builds babies’ brains, improves their social and emotional wellbeing, and makes them more prepared for school and for life. This program perfectly fits our mission to provide opportunities for growth and enrichment in the communities we serve.”

The San Mateo County Library initiative marks the first large-scale adoption of the LENA Start model, developed by the LENA Research Foundation through more than two years of piloting with parents. A second rollout in May is expected to be announced shortly, in another mid-sized city elsewhere in the U.S. The foundation is discussing additional locations for fall 2015 and spring 2016, with agencies across the country ranging from school districts and public-service organizations to municipal government and health-care providers.

“The LENA Start model is laser-focused on simple, practical ways to help parents improve talk with their babies,” said Dr. Stephen Hannon, president of the LENA Research Foundation. “Focus is extremely important, now more than ever. More than half the children coming into America’s schools today are low income, and the data show that they disproportionately start school under-prepared. Early language is the starting point in turning that around. San Mateo County Library understands that, which is why we’re thrilled that they will be using LENA technology and Smarter Happier Baby classes to help their parents help their children.”

Patented LENA technology records language throughout a child’s day, then translates the recording into data that show parents how much they’re talking so they can improve, and how they are progressing. Smarter Happier Baby adds an instructional program consisting of 8 one-hour, motivational parent group sessions, using engaging videos, presentations, and written materials in both English and Spanish. Focused on parent behavior change, the program encourages reading with children, singing with them, and using “Talking Tips” to increase interactive language throughout the day. Take-home materials include free books for shared reading with children. Graduates of the 8-week sequence return for monthly reinforcement sessions for up to a year.

Developed at a cost of more than $40 million contributed by co-founders Terrance and Judith Paul, the LENA System is deployed worldwide in research, clinical uses, and early childhood programs. In creating their own intervention model, LENA factored years of research and experience using LENA technologies with interventionists, in programs like the Thirty Million Words® Initiative in Chicago and Providence Talks in Providence, Rhode Island, as well as pilot programs in Colorado.

About the LENA Research Foundation
The LENA Research Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity based in Boulder, Colorado. Its mission is to accelerate language development to improve the cognitive, social, and emotional health of children birth to five and close achievement gaps. Used by researchers and clinicians all over the world, the LENA System™ measures a child’s language environment and provides vital feedback to parents and professionals in programs dedicated to close the language, learning, and opportunity gap for underprivileged children. For information on the foundation or LENA Start, contact Beth Dresser at 303-441-9048, or email bethdresser(at)lenafoundation(dot)org.

About San Mateo County Library
The San Mateo County Library comprises the California cities of Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Millbrae, Pacifica, Portola Valley, San Carlos, Woodside, and the unincorporated areas of the county. Its mission is to provide innovative, dynamic services that connect its diverse community with opportunities for individual growth and enrichment. As a key partner and provider of free services for all children and families, San Mateo County Library offers an array of high quality programs and interventions focusing on the first years of life and is thrilled about this opportunity to further enhance work in one of our five core areas to support young child development, Talk. For more information on San Mateo County Library or the implementation of the LENA program, contact Carine Risley at 650.312.5258, or email risley(at)smcl(dot)org.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Mindy Ricketts
@LENAFoundation
since: 02/2009
Follow >
LENA Research Foundation

Visit website