Build Babies' Brains with LENA Start!

Graphic illustration of two adults holding hands with a child, with the caption "Parents Have the Power!"

You are your child's first teacher! Children's librarians use storytimes to give caregivers ideas of how to read, sing, and play with your child. You probably spend a lot of your day talking to your child, but did you know it's important to talk WITH them, too? 

Even before your child is learning to say words, those babbles, coos, and other sounds are communication tools, and engaging your child in conversation is crucial to their brain development. According to the Harvard Center on the Developing Child, early childhood is the most active period for brain growth. From birth to the age of 3, a child’s brain develops more than 1 million neural connections per second!

MRI image showing increasing synapses in a child's brain at birth, six months, and two years

Early talk is a critical catalyst for that growth. Back-and-forth conversations with young children are linked to brain development, language skills, social-emotional development, and school readiness.

However, even if you already know that talk is important, studies have shown that many families talk less than they think they do. To help with this, Bay County Library System has launched an early talk program for children from birth to age 36 months called LENA Start. LENA Start is a ten-week parent workshop that encourages families to build strategies to meaningfully interact with their young child, increasing talk and encourage their babies' literacy and brain growth. 

LENA Start uses wearable technology to analyze speech in a child's home. Caregivers attend the workshop, and children wear a small "talk pedometer" device one day each week. Caregivers then receive reports on how much they're talking with your child, when they could talk more, and how much you're growing with your baby!

The device measures four things:

  • Adult words spoken
  • Interactions between the child and adult (known as conversational turns)
  • Minutes of electronic/TV sound
  • Self-reported reading minutes

The device does not record speech and the recording is not accessible to anyone.

We are currently registering families for workshops in January and March 2022! If you are interested in more information about signing up for a session, please fill out the Parent Interest Form linked here.

For more information about LENA Start, visit our LENA webpage at

LENA is a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit organization

LENA Start at BCLS is made possible by grants from Hemlock Semiconductor Community and Regional Empowerment (CARE) Grant Program and the Bay Area Community Foundation. 

Published by on November 24, 2021
Last Modified October 07, 2022