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Early Childhood Partners: Building Strong, Young Minds

This article first appeared in the 2022 It Takes A Valley Campaign Impact Report.

Building Strong Young Minds

LENA Grow’s Community-Wide Expansion Spurs Growth in Early Learners

Early Childhood Partners (ECP), supported by a grant from the Frechette Family Foundation, has expanded several programs, including the community-wide implementation of LENA Grow®. This professional development program enhances positive interactions between early childhood educators and young children.

Supporting Children Through Connection

LENA, short for Language Environment Analysis, uses technology to track and promote high-quality, backand-forth interactions between adults and children. Research indicates that these interactions, known as “conversational turns,” offer numerous benefits, such as improved behaviors and increased school readiness.

LENA Grow is an innovative job-embedded professional development program that equips early childhood teachers with tools to foster meaningful connections, stimulate cognitive growth, and improve language skills. Liz Costaldo, Director of Operations at ECP, explains, “We constantly seek programs to help caregivers support children’s social-emotional development, which is crucial to their success. LENA Grow achieves this by enhancing interactions, language development, and relationships.”

The Promise of LENA Grow

LENA technology provides real-time tracking and data analysis, enabling teachers to monitor and enhance interactions with individual children. Participating teachers reported improved behaviors in children and reduced stress levels among themselves, two outcomes that help foster a nurturing environment. Cindy Lagace shares her experience as a teacher, saying, “LENA Grow increased my awareness of children needing more focus. Working with them yielded positive results, which were effectively communicated through organized charts. It was a proud moment!”

Since receiving funding from the Frechette Family Foundation in December 2021, ECP staff has successfully expanded LENA Grow, reaching 309 infants, toddlers, and preschoolers across 51 classrooms in the first year. The foundation’s generous support also helped cover equipment needs and product licenses.

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