Huntsville Parenting Program Creates Stronger Student Readers

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HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Young children in Huntsville are becoming more and more readers thanks to a parenting program. “LENA Start” focuses on increasing early speech in children aged 0 to 30 months.

The program was launched after research noted a 30 million word gap linked to children living in poverty.

Schools in the city of Huntsville first launched the program in 20-15. These children have now completed preschool. A report released by the program found that children in the program had significantly higher early literacy scores.

Jovonne Foster joined the program when her youngest daughter Carlie was around one and a half years old.

“As a family we all benefited from it because my older daughters wanted to read to Carlie for her homework, you know, and make sure she got into the conversation. So they all wanted to read to him and talk to him, turn off their devices, ”Foster said.

“Take what parents do on a daily basis and just step it up,” said Anthony Davison, the City of Huntsville Preschool Coordinator. “It could be throwing a ball, talking about the color of the ball, talking about the shape and size of the ball. You can use single words with them, but just vary your words, use a synonym. Instead of using little, you could say minute. Just giving them different words.

Almost 500 families have taken the program. Parents meet once a week for ten weeks, and their children also wear a recorder once a week. The recorder counts the number of words spoken by the child and family and monitors the amount of electronics they hear.

Children who complete the program are also guaranteed a spot in a pre-K class in Huntsville City.

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