Posted on

LENA program provides students with head start

LENA program provides students with head start LENA program provides students with head start

By Neal Hogden

Abbotsford 3K teacher Teresa Archambo- Broeske gave a presentation about the district’s LENA Grow program, or Language ENvironment Analysis, to the Abbotsford School Board at its monthly meeting on Monday, Feb. 19.

Parents of kids enrolled in the 3-year-old kindergarten class at Abbotsford Elementary School have the choice whether to have their child participate in the program or not.

“It provides a lifetime of benefits for our students’ developing brains,” Archambo- Broeske said.

The process

The program requires kids to wear a vest with a pocket in the front which houses a small device that tracks speech data on Tuesday during the school week. On Tuesday afternoon, the data is uploaded to the LENA hub which analyzes how many words the kids are hearing and how many conversations they are having throughout the day.

The data is analyzed and on Wednesday, a coach from the LENA program interprets the data and shares the information with parents and teachers. The data helps parents and teachers identify where the kids might be lacking the speech exposure from their teachers throughout the day. After the data is uploaded, it is put into personalized graphs and perspectives for each child that parents can use to see their child’s growth in speech throughout the year.

Archambo-Broeske said the device

See LENA PROGRAM/ Page 5 LENA program

Continued from page 1

doesn’t record specific conversations, but instead, tracks speech patterns and audio cues to record when a conversation is happening.

On Thursday, Archambo-Broeske and teacher aides in the 3K classroom implement strategies given by the LENA coaches to fulfill conversational deficits identified by the data in day to day activities.

Archambo-Broeske said Abbotsford’s LENA coach is from Children’s of Wisconsin and she has been very helpful in giving staff and parents things to work on.

Archambo-Broeske gave the board samples of what a report might look like and also distributed resources given by LENA to staff and parents.

The reports detail how teachers did throughout the school day in talking to students and also how the students did in responding to that conversational stimuli throughout the day. The kids take a report home every week to show to their parents detailing how they did that week.

Each week, the LENA program provides resources to the teachers and parents to help increase talk while at home or school. Some of the categories LENA has emphasized are conversations during meal time, conversations while on the playground or outside, conversations while outside and family talk.

Archambo-Broeske said when she first heard about the program, she was hesitant but that changed when she got more into the program.

“When [District Accountability Coordinator] Georgia Kraus first asked me about this, I said, ‘Nope, I don’t want any part of that.’ But now that I know more about it and I understand it better, I love it,” Archambo-Broeske said.

Technology used

The program uses what is categorized by LENA as a talk pedometer. The same way a pedometer tracks someone’s steps, the device used by LENA tracks a toddler’s speech and how many words and conversations they are experiencing throughout the day.

The device is a small, wearable piece of equipment that is inserted into the front of a vest that fits over the child’s clothes. The vests are placed on stuffed animals in the classroom throughout the week but on Tuesdays, the kids get to take the vests off of the toys and put them on themselves.

After a full day of talk is captured by the LENA device, the audio files are transferred to a cloud processing system that uses complex algorithms to analyze the audio file. The algorithms are trained to identify and differentiate adult speech, child speech and TV/electronic noise according to the

Board member Kraig Schindler asked if there were any EMF emissions or any sort of other transmitter-related issues the devices could cause. Archambo-Broeske ensured LENA has tested the product and has deemed the device child safe in all respects.

Other LENA opportunities

On top of the LENA Grow program, there is also a program called LENA Start which is for kids ages 0-54 months. The program is free and includes a 10-week program in English or Spanish.

The winter/spring session is already in progress with parents involved in the program meeting from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Abbotsford Elementary School. This also includes using a LENA device to prepare children for school success and allows parents the opportunity to increase child’s language growth.

District Administrator Ryan Bargender said the LENA program is funded by grants through the middle of the 2024-25 school year but the district is looking for further grant opportunities to keep the program going after the current funding runs out.

MAXIMUM CONCENTRATION - Treyslyn Bender focuses during a class activity. The LENA program is tracking how many words and conversations she is having with other students and with adults throughout the day.


PASSIVE LEARNING - Quinn Doffing dons his vest while working on cutting during class on February 27. Families enrolled in the LENA program get an inside-the-classroom look at speech data thanks to the devices the kids wear on Tuesdays in the classrooms.