Research shows that the first three years of life are instrumental to the development of language acquisition and speech and language skills (NIH, 2014). Based on the success of Ready At Five’s Vocabulary Improvement and Oral Language Through Stories program (VIOLETS), which has been used in over 450 classrooms, its evaluation, and the feedback and lessons learned from teachers, administrators, school system administrators and funders, and numerous requests from practitioners interested in a language development program for younger children, Ready At Five and an Advisory Group of national and Maryland researchers working in the field of young children and language development developed a research-based VIOLETS-type program for two and three year old children. The VIOLETS research and Read Aloud format are the basis for Promoting Enrichment to Advance Language Skills (PETALS) program for young English Learners or children at-risk for delay in language development skills.
The PETALS program features 12 interactive Read Alouds based on award-winning and carefully selected books that appeal to young children. PETALS is an 15-minute daily intervention featuring one book per week for 12 weeks. Each book (which include English, Spanish and bilingual selections) features the PETALS design, thematically related key word and word cards, closing activities aligned to Maryland’s Early Learning Standards for Language and Literacy, optional classroom extension activities, and a weekly parent letter and take-home activity (in English and Spanish). Researchers from University of Maryland developed a customized assessment to evaluate receptive language skills based on the key words associated with the PETALS program, and that assessment was revised based on the first pilot and implemented in this second pilot phase.