Virginia Beach to Launch LENA Start Classes this Spring

Innovative Program increases communication and kindergarten readiness skills

Friday, February 01, 2019

​Virginia Beach GrowSmart is set to launch more LENA Start classes this spring. This innovative program is for families with children ages 0 – 3 years and helps to support interactive talk during this important brain development stage.  Classes are offered in collaboration with various City partners and Virginia Beach GrowSmart is pleased to announce three class locations to begin in February 2019.

LENA Start Classes will be offered at:

  • Bow Creek Recreation Center, 3427 Club House Road: Wednesdays, 6-7:30 p.m., Feb. 13 – May 22
  • Ocean Lakes Elementary School, 1616 Upton Drive: Thursdays, 6-7:30 p.m., Feb. 21 – May 22
  • TCC/City of Virginia Beach Joint-Use Library, TCC Campus, 1700 College Crescent, Building L: Wednesdays, 8:45 – 10 a.m., Feb. 27 – May 22 

In 2017, the Lena Research Foundation selected the City of Virginia Beach as one of 11 new communities to join LENA Start, a program that helps parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers (0-30 months) close the talk gap. Research shows that talking with babies is one of the most critical elements in their early brain development. LENA Start uses innovative "talk pedometer" technology with simple strategies offered in a series of efficient, engaging sessions. Parents learn to use feedback from the LENA System™ about their home language environment and receive home parent materials, free books to build a home library and easy-to-use talking tips to increase interactive talk with their children.  

LENA Start takes a cost-effective and scalable approach by delivering LENA feedback and strategies to increase talk to groups of parents. A sequence of 13 weekly one-hour sessions builds family engagement and social capital as well as strengthens engagement between families and the community. The goal is to increase communication between parents and young children to bridge achievement and word gaps and increase children's school readiness.

The program is a new offering from GrowSmart, a division of Virginia Beach Economic Development, to ensure healthy development and school readiness for children in Virginia Beach. The program is a cost-share model with United Way of South Hampton Roads, LENA Research and the City of Virginia Beach. The program will be launched with GrowSmart collaborative partners such as Virginia Beach Public Libraries, Parks and Recreation, Early Intervention, Head Start, Square One and other community-based organizations. For more information or to register contact Barb Lito at Virginia Beach GrowSmart, (757) 385-6464.

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