School Readiness Team Receives Award for Early Language Development Program

The Lena Making a Difference Award TrophyThe School Readiness Team of Huntsville City Schools received the 2017 Terry Paul "Making A Difference" award from the LENA Research Foundation on September 13th.  The award was received at the foundation's biennial conference, which recognizes outstanding contributions to fostering talk with children from birth to age three - a critical age range for stimulating brain development through interactive talk.  In keeping with the "Paths to Opportunity" theme of the 2017 LENA Research Foundation conference, this years awards represent three different large-scale avenues for improving school readiness: parent group programs, home visitation, and early childhood education.

Huntsville City Schools adopted the LENA Start parent-group program in 2015, in order to help parents better prepare their kids for the district's pre-school program.  The district was one of the first to recognize that a mission to educate all students must include a vision of children from birth to age three.  Parents have benefited from practical strategies for increasing early talk, social capital resulting from group sessions, and the enthusiasm and energy brought to every session by all parties.  The "Making A Difference" award recognized the consistency of large impacts to home language environments and child outcomes.

HCS School Readiness Staff accepting an award for the LENA Start Program"As a school district, we think that we are touching the lives of just the children, but now we're touching the lives of the family," says HCS Director of School Readiness Helen Scott.  She and her staff spoke with LENA representatives after the awards ceremony, pointing out that the lives positively affected by this program includes mothers, fathers, and even grandparents, but Ms. Scott also added that "we have more that we have to do to touch the lives of families, and that's where we're going now."  The hard work of the district is paying off, however, and the first Huntsville LENA Start babies entered Pre-K this fall.  Ms. Scott says that her team will be tracking those students and working with their families, to make sure they don't experience "fade out" on their way to third grade.

For more information, visit our LENA Start information page or check out the LENA Research Foundation website.

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