A study completed by the University of Kansas states that by age 3, children from welfare families in the USA tend to have 30 million less words in their vocabulary than their more privileged peers from professional families. This reality is reflected by the results from our most recent Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) evaluation. Results showed that Language Modeling within the Instructional Support domain was below the expected score, mirroring a serious challenge faced by early learning centers nationwide. We are working towards closing that gap with our language enrichment component, which offers instructional support in language modeling. This project focuses on conversation, story time and sign language for preverbal children.
Our language enrichment component is driven by Ms. Cristina, who follows a rotating morning schedule that allows every child the opportunity to engage in language driven sessions which include child initiated conversation, sign language instruction, and literacy activities. The objectives of these sessions include encouraging expressive language, fostering a love for books and building vocabulary. Sessions in the Preschool classes take place from 9:00 – 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM- 12:00 PM, the first session focusing on expressive language and the second one on reading.
Story time covers one book per week, meaning that the children are exposed to a new story and at least 5 new vocabulary words on a weekly basis. Increasing the amount of words in the children’s vocabulary gives them an increased ability to express themselves and engage with others. These skills set the stage for further learning.
This program collects data on a daily basis to ensure that all sessions are documented. Participants are scored after every session using a scale of 1 – 4 where 1 is “No engagement/No opportunity” and 4 is “Conversation of 3+ exchanges”. Parents are involved by attending workshops facilitated by the Language Enrichment Coordinator where they receive supplemental materials and resources provided by the public libraries, when available. Parents are also encouraged to order books from the monthly Scholastic Reading Club catalogs at affordable prices and to take advantage of free services such as Books from Birth and First Book’s Open eBooks app.
Additionally, the SED Center's language enrichment component created “Signing with SED” as an online initiative meant to connect families with the mentioned strategies. Videos feature signs based on the vocabulary in the book read that week.