The 100 Babies Project

100BabiesInfographic

More about the 100 Babies Project, in the words of former Project Manager, Dr. Jessica Bergeron:

“Georgia Pathway started off as a community of practice for teachers, teachers who serve children who are deaf and hard of hearing. It started in June of 2011 in an effort to provide online support for teachers and improve their practices around literacy. We are the only group to combine LSL (Listening & Spoken Language), state-run ASL (American Sign Language)/bilingual programs, with county comprehensive programs with the common goal of grade level reading. We are the only group of our kind. Our 3rd grade goal is the same as our governor’s, which is that all children will be on a path to 3rd grade reading by 2020. Once we became a coalition in 2012-2013, we were working together to examine research-based practices that promote literacy development. Then, we recognized that we couldn’t be successful if we didn’t also target the system from birth to three. We then had a coalition meeting in June 2013. At that meeting, we made an effort to target the system, all of the people within the system instead of just teachers. This included policymakers, pediatricians, Department of Public Health, et al. Many great things happened at that meeting, but one of the best things that happened at that meeting was the creation of action teams. The Funding and Policy Action Team included Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald who is the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health in Georgia. She declared at that meeting that the next 100 babies who are diagnosed with hearing loss in Georgia would be on a path to grade level reading. She committed herself to making the changes that were needed to make it happen.

The mission of the 100 babies project is to create an efficient system that ensures that all children will be on a path to grade level reading. At the beginning of the project, the coalition started at the beginning of the literacy process, from pre-birth medical visits to 3rd grade reading, examining all interactions that would promote language growth, which is the foundation for literacy. It was an investigation of all parties that contribute to a child’s birth to literacy plan. It helped the coalition identify gaps and system failures. The gaps were places where issues arose that weren’t owned by any particular agency. The agencies have taken responsibility for their part. We are committed to staying six months ahead of the process. The 100 Babies is a first-run, testing the working system in place in Georgia for babies birth to 3rd grade. The breakdown of the project begins with investigation, then helping agencies problem solve and trouble shoot, and finally filling in the gaps. For each transaction, the focus is twofold. What capacity are we building in parents to empower their children? And how is this step building that child’s language?”

Stay tuned for more information about how you can get involved in this groundbreaking work!

 

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A Baby’s Language Development: Joint Attention

kid boy and mother playing together with cup toys

What is Joint Attention?

From birth, parents respond to their infant’s coos, smiles, and movements as though they are meaningful communicative acts, and may smile, vocalize, or otherwise imitate their infant’s actions. These types of exchanges, sometimes called “proto-conversations,” are important for the infant’s developing emotional and social competence, including bonding and attachment, as well as early understanding of turn-taking and meaningful communication.

Beginning around six months, as infants become more mobile and start to explore the world around them, the focus of their attention shifts to the objects in their environment. Soon after that, they begin to coordinate attention between caregivers and objects in a meaningful way by looking, for example, back and forth between the caregiver and the object. This kind of shared focus between a child, a caregiver, and an object or event is known as joint attention. ¹

The Importance of Joint Attention

Infants’ ability to engage in joint attention is an important developmental milestone. Joint attention serves as a foundation for developing communicative competence and is one basis for the development of early social and cognitive skills.
For both hearing and deaf children, joint attention interactions are also crucial for language development. Specifically, the language children hear and see during this particular type of interaction with their caregivers is strongly linked to early vocabulary development. When caregivers share attention with their infants, and comment on the object or event on which the infant is focusing, infants acquire new words more easily and efficiently than if the caregiver simply attempts to redirect the child’s attention. Joint attention interactions that focus specifically on shared book reading have also been linked to later language development and reading ability.¹

How to Develop This Skill (Listening & Spoken Language)

  • Tell your child, “Look at me,” then tap his/her face and then your face. After you have given this verbal cue, give your child time to respond.
  • Point to a toy that your child likes and say, “look.” Gently turn his/her head toward the toy. When he/she looks at it, play with the toy or give it to him/her.
  • Hold up a toy or favorite item and say, “look.” Your child should look at you and then the object. Reward by giving the toy to your child.
  • Blow bubbles and say, “look.” Point as your child traces the bubbles. Blow more bubbles when he/she looks at you, repeat the word “look,” and point.
  • Blow up a balloon, but don’t tie it or let it go. Say, “look,” and release it when your child looks.
  • When your child becomes interested in books, point to a picture and say, “look.” Help your child point to pictures. The goal is for your child to look at you and then the picture. By sharing awareness and interest in the same picture or book you are achieving joint attention.
  • When another family member comes into the room, point and say, “look.” Reward your child for looking with a physical activity, such as tickling or patting.

Your child may need more time to understand what turning his/her head means, so don’t be discouraged if this skill is slow for him/her to learn.²

How to Develop This Skill (ASL)

  • Placing signs into the child’s current focus of attention;
  • Using attention-getting signals (tapping the child, waving towards the child) to establish eye contact before signing;
  • Physically setting up the interaction so that both the parent and the objects can be seen with minimal shifting (for example, sitting across from the child);
  • Waiting for spontaneous looks from the child before signing;
  • Providing relevant signs when the child spontaneously looks up;
  • Giving the child time to explore objects before eliciting attention; and
  • Using specific signs such as LOOK, along with a pleasant, positive manner, to prompt the child that linguistic input is forthcoming.¹


¹Visual Language and Visual Learning Science of Learning Center. (2012, June). Eye Gaze and Joint Attention (Research Brief No. 5). Washington, DC: Amy M. Lieberman

²Mawhinney, L. & McTeague, M.S. (2004). Joint Attention. Early Language Development. Super Duper Publications.

What Words Should I Teach My Child?

Once you’ve determined whether your child is a language learner or language developer, you can target different vocabulary words each week. Here’s a guide to choosing vocab words.

Choosing Words page 8

 

What words will you target this week?