Early childhood language program launches second session in Wichita Falls

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - A Colorado-based technology program for children from birth to three years old has made its way to Texoma.

The Wichita County Parents as Teachers program (PAT) along with the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program (HIPPY) were chosen to check out the LENA program.

That makes Wichita Falls one of six cities in the state to participate. The hope is to increase interactive talk with children during their early years of life.

For Christina Moreno, signing up her kids for a second session of the LENA program was not a difficult decision to make.

"They talk so much now," Moreno said. I'm just ready to see how much more they're talking compared to our [last sessions] results."

Because talk has been proven to be a key factor in brain development, the LENA program is helping improve language and lives worldwide through a device that listens and measures, talking.

"The process is really simple," LENA Program Manager, Traci Martin said. "Parents will turn on the device in the morning when the child wakes up by pressing record and putting the device in the vest."

Martin said parents then put the vest on the child and the child wears it for a full day. The LENA technology tracks the number of words and conversational turns children experience at home.

The data gathered is then shared with the parents by the home visitor through a bar chart.

Yolanda Lewis, the Wichita Falls PAT supervisor said in early childhood the earlier intervention they get with language and reading the better.

"One of the big pieces that we are trying to accomplish here in Wichita Falls is to close that three million word gap that some of our children do face," Lewis said. "If we start even earlier by doing projects like the LENA project, we are getting a hold of that and getting ahead of that."

Getting ahead is something Moreno said she wants to do with her children.

"Having this program and having them get started on it is going to help them with the early head start," Moreno said.

LENA Home was first tested in Wichita Falls last fall. LENA is also partnering with Texas Children's Hospital in Houston to implement their LENA Start program.

If you're an interested parent you're asked to contact United Way. You can reach them at (940) 322-8638 ext. 21

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