Learning Through Relating
Learning Through Relating (LTR: Moreno, Sciarrino & Klute, 2008) is a comprehensive system for expanding learning for children birth to 3. Developed through a partnership between Clayton Early Learning and University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, the goal of Learning Through Relating is to increase age-appropriate structure and intentionality of infant-toddler caregivers. Funded by a Head Start University Partnership Research Grant from the Administration for Children and Families, this system is unique because it was expressly designed for infants and toddlers, rather than modified from a preschool version. Practices for this age group have not caught up with the near two-decades-old knowledge about the critical importance of brain growth in the first three years.
Learning Through Relating is being implemented in our Educare Denver school. We are using the curriculum with children and families in both the home-based and center-based programs. Implementation involves an initial training, regular “booster sessions,” and ongoing coaching with teachers and home visitors.
What impact is LTR having on teachers and home visitors?
- Teachers and home visitors are approaching their work in a whole new way. Where previously they used activities as the starting point for planning, they now start with a developmental goal for each child. One teacher pointed out that the lesson planning form used by the EHS program needed to be changed because there was no place to note the developmental goal.
"I was so surprised that Susie was so much higher in some skill-waves than others, it led me and my coach to sit down and really assess what might have been going on for her."
- Teachers and home visitors report an increase in professionalism. Teachers and home visitors have enjoyed the intensive professional development that goes along with implementing LTR, noting that it has been a good learning experience. Staff reported that LTR has helped them do their jobs better and feel better about their jobs.
"I think I am a much better teacher. I am so much more accountable for my personal interactions with the children. I think it shows with my kids. They are way further than I thought they would get, especially with speech and language issues ... a lot of my kids are getting off some special needs issues."
"This curriculum makes me feel like a professional."
- Teachers and home visitors like the organization of LTR and enjoy using it. Teachers and home visitors shared positive feedback about the components of LTR and how it all fits together. They also liked the way they could customize the curriculum and add additional activities that linked to other things they were doing in the classroom.
"I like that the activities tie directly to the skill-waves -- so it's got the activity there for you to help scaffold them up to the next level."
"The Strive For's [in the activities section] really help me know what I am trying to accomplish. It's not just an activity; I know what I am trying to do. It helps the parents know too."
" Without the What it Looks Like and Think About sections, this would be just another assessment. Those really help us figure out the skills."
We’ve learned a great deal since the implementation of LTR. Results of our evaluation were recently presented at Head Start's Ninth National Research Conference.