A recent cluster-randomized controlled trial conducted by Bleses and colleagues expanded a previously tested intervention called “We Learn Together.” This program is designed to target language and math skills in toddlers between the ages of 18-35 months. It emphasizes high-quality conversation, strategies for learning new words, and scaffolded learning. Teachers tasked with implementing this intervention were provided with a sequence of instruction spanning 20 weeks but were also granted a high degree of autonomy in developing activities and a curriculum that would promote the desired learning strategies.
The present study included 2,170 children at 255 childcare centers in Denmark that were separated into a treatment group and a control group, with children in both groups completing a pretest prior to the intervention and a posttest approximately 7 months after the start of the intervention. A comparison of the groups demonstrated
- Significant effects for the treatment group in receptive vocabulary (ES = +0.13), productive vocabulary (ES = +0.10), math language (ES = +0.59), and numeracy (ES=+0.34).
The researchers also used intervention notes to separate children from the treatment group into those who had high exposure to the treatment and low exposure to the treatment (according to activities participated). Compared to the control group,
- Students with high exposure demonstrated stronger overall effects including receptive vocabulary (ES = +0.18), productive vocabulary (ES = +0.16), math language (ES = +0.75), and numeracy (ES=+0.48).
- Students with low exposure only demonstrated significant effects in math language (ES = +0.33).
The researchers suggest this study provides evidence that:
- The “We Learn Together” intervention is reproducible at scale, as significant effects were noted following only a two-day professional development for the early-childhood educators.
- No indication was found that a child’s gender, child’s age, parents’ educational levels, parents’ ethnicities, or parents’ employment statuses significantly changed the effectiveness of the intervention.
- Moving forward, this intervention may provide a model for effective practices that can be implemented during a period of rapid learning and child development.
Source (Open Access): Bleses, D., Jensen, P., Højen, A., Slot, P., & Justice, L. (2021). Implementing toddler interventions at scale: The case of “We learn together”. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 57, 12–26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2021.04.008