Early-learning education program pilot aims to give children a head start

CENTRAL, Ky. (WTVQ) – A pilot program promoting early childhood education is test driving its techniques in Kentucky. Families and children from five Kentucky counties are getting an early start on education with a 10-week program called 3-T’s Let’s Talk.

The program was developed by the T-M-W Center for Early Learning and Public Health at the University of Chicago, and funded by a grant from PNC Grow Up Great.

It focuses on developing communication between parent and child from birth up to three years of age, a critical window of time according to Laura Landrum with the program.

“The largest amount of brain development happens between 0-5 so this focuses specifically up to 3 so we are really honing in on that early childhood development to make sure those brain connections are being made”,” says Landrum.

Through the program, parents help their children build their vocabulary by following the rule of 3 T’s, tune in to what your child is focused on, talk more to your child and take turns communicating. For mom of 2, Katie Tomlin, this was a big help following a year of online learning.

“With my five year old, doing virtual pr e-school was weird to say the least but she just started kindergarten and she’s one of the smartest kids in her class,” explains Tomlin.

The program takes place virtually and is offered in both English and Spanish.

Carime Santos, one of the parents involved in the program told us through a translator that it’s great for families for whom English is their second language.

“She’s more connected to her child the way she talk and try to teach him and she’s think she already see the problems and he talks to her more than before the program start,” explains Santos’ translator.

Group sessions include guided practice and goal setting to help parents integrate this program into everyday life

“I think as a mom you second guess yourself a lot and with this program I feel like I don’t do that as much,” says Tomlin.

Managers with the program say their 10-week pilot program is full but they are hoping to give more opportunity to join the sessions in the future.

The program is being piloted with groups of families from area home-based Early Head Start programs operating in five Kentucky counties. Local non-profit organization Community Action Council has partnered with the TMW Center to implement and facilitate the program in Fayette County, Harrison County, Clark County, Estill County, and Garrard County.

3Ts Let’s Talk teaches parents and caregivers about the critical role their talk and interaction play in their children’s foundational brain development. At the heart of both programs is the “3Ts,” simple science-based strategies to help parents create an enriching environment for their children:

The program focuses on Tune In to what your child is focused on, Talk More using a wide variety of words to build your child’s vocabulary; and Take Turns to engage your child in conversation and foster curiosity and knowledge.

The program, which launched in Central Kentucky on July 8, 2021 is taking place virtually and being offered in both English and Spanish. Each group session is dedicated to a specific early childhood development topic and includes guided practice and goal setting to help families integrate the 3Ts into their everyday lives.

Each family also receives one-on-one coaching with a trained facilitator between the weekly sessions.

“Within every parent and caregiver lies the power to shape his or her child’s learning capacities,” said TMW Center founder and co-director Dr. Dana Suskind. “I am thrilled that so many Kentucky families are harnessing that power.

“I couldn’t be more grateful to our partners at Community Action Council and their incredible team of home-based Early Head Start home visitors,” she added.

Categories: Featured, Local News, News