November 19, 2012


Our former babysitter, whom we adore and miss terribly, is in her second year of college. She is studying to be a Speech Language Pathologist. When she was still in high school, she had the opportunity to observe at the center where SB goes for speech therapy. And apparently, that solidified her interest in the field.

I recently received an email from her (in which she called me "Mrs. Ross" - ack!) asking if we would be willing to help her with a project for a class by participating in a Language Environment Analysis (LENA). If I agreed, she would use the data to complete a report, and I could have a copy.

It would involve SB wearing a small recorder for a day, which would capture not only her speech, but the speech of those around her, who interacted with her. That recording would then be used to analyze the number of words used by the adults in her environment (us) and by SB.

I thought it sounded fascinating, and told her we would love to help.

She came home over the Veteran's Day weekend to bring us the digital voice recorder. It came with its own shirt, with a special built-in pocket for the recorder. I knew as soon as I saw it that getting SB to wear it would prove difficult.

I was right. First, she rejected it because she doesn't like stripes. Then because it was blue. Finally, after I explained Teresa was counting on us, she put it on but immediately complained it was uncomfortable.

Then hubby came up with a great idea. He placed the recorder in the iPod case he uses for running, and strapped it to her arm.

We were off and running, so to speak.

For the most part, we all forgot the recorder was there and went about our business as we normally would. Every now and then SB would lean over, put her mouth up to the recorder and say something like, "Teresa, I like Strawberry Shortcake."

And we had a lot of fun in the very beginning making some comments about our Florida Gators, since Teresa is a Seminole. Other than that, she got a pretty typical sample of what our days are like.

When SB became grumpy and whiny we decided it was time to turn the recorder off. She had gotten up very early that (Saturday) morning, and I was hoping she would nap. She didn't. But we should have captured enough data for Teresa to do her classwork and for us to receive some interesting information about SB's language environment.

The LENA research shows a very strong correlation between the number of words spoken to and around a child and IQ. The more the first, the higher the latter. But, the website states, "After the first four years, however, it is virtually impossible to close the gap between children whose parents have provided this advantage and children of parents who have not."

Well, SB will turn four in less than two months, so if the information we receive is not good, there's nothing we can really do about it.

Also? MY CHILD IS ABOUT TO TURN FOUR!!! How did this happen?
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