Virginia Beach understands children begin learning at birth in all environments: at home, at school, and in the community. We are building on brain science which confirms that neural connections are created and reinforced during the ages of 0 – 3 years at rapid rates. Research studies suggest that conversational turns have been linked to brain structure and may strengthen these “information highways”. Our goal is to support children’s healthy development and kindergarten readiness skills which we know sets a firm foundation for future learning and life success.
Through a What Works Cities grant, Virginia Beach READS and GrowSmart expanded our early literacy and language focus to offer a three-tiered approach to support young children’s healthy development. Virginia Beach offers LENA technology and programs such as LENA Start parent groups, LENA Grow early childhood professional development and coaching, and LENA Home through our existing home visiting programs.
In 2017, Virginia Beach was one of 11 new communities to launch LENA Start, a parent group model using innovative talk pedometer technology.
After seeing the successful impacts of LENA Start groups, our collaborative partners explored how we could continue to connect with families to strengthen home language environments and healthy development of children.
Research shows that the amount of conversation children experience during the first few years of life varies widely, creating an early talk gap.