Florida’s first LENA Start program recognized its first graduation class in Pensacola.
Fourteen parents earned their certificate of completion on Wednesday in a ceremony at First Presbyterian Child Discovery Center.
Since September, Studer Community Institute has held parent classes at the Child Discovery Center.
The 13-week session covered an array of lessons, topics and activities designed to increase brain-building conversations with babies.
LENA Start classes help parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers from 0 to 30 months close the “talk gap.”
Research indicates that academic achievement gaps result because some children experience millions fewer words and conversations than their peers during the critical early years when babies’ brains are growing to 80 percent of their adult size.
Starting in 2015, LENA Start has been implemented by school districts, hospitals, library systems and other social service organizations. Results from initial implementations show an 83 percent graduation rate, with improvements in four key areas:
— 75 percent of adult caregivers are speaking more to their babies.
— 63 percent of families are having more conversations with their babies.
— Families reported reading 57 percent more with their babies than before.
Children’s language scores are growing twice as fast as comparison groups.
At the Child Discovery Center, 93 percent of the parents completed the program, 96 percent turned in valid recordings and they increased conversational turns by 53 percent over the 13-week period.
Congratulations, parents, for a job well done.