Small Talk program available to Northwest Iowa

Graphic of smiling child with text reading Small Talk

Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach has brought a new pilot program, called “Small Talk” to Northwest Iowa.
“Small Talk,” which is specifically for parents of children under the age of 30 months, is based in science, according to Lori Korthals, local human sciences specialist in family life, who will lead the program.
“Science proves that babies’ brains grow to 80 percent of their adult size in the first three years of life,” Korthals said. “This means the most important time for a baby’s brain is the period from birth to his or her third birthday.”
During that timeframe, infants form 700 new connections a second and respond to our talk right from birth.
“Research shows that the most important part of raising smarter, happier babies is talking more with them,” Korthals said. “It works right from birth, even before the child understands a single word.”
Korthals said that the “Small Talk” program dives into the idea of talking and reading to your infant or young toddler, and utilizes the LENA®System, a digital system used in language programs all over the world, so that parents get real and tangible feedback.
“Parents who have participated in ‘Small Talk’ have reported happier, smarter, more active and school ready children, as well as feeling more confident and capable as parents,” Korthals said. “The LENA System allows us to help parents learn how much they’re talking, when they could talk more and how much the parent and baby is growing in this area.”
“Small Talk” will be held virtually with sessions every Tuesday, beginning Jan. 19 through March 23. Parents have the option to choose to participate in a 1:00-1:30 p.m. session or an 8:00-8:30 p.m. session, depending on their schedule.
Korthals encourages parents to sign up as this ten-week round of “Small Talk” is free to the first 40 families, thanks to the sponsorship of local extension councils. Included with their participation, parents will receive a variety of take-home resources, talking tips, books and entertaining activities, as well as support from trained instructors who know the program and know how to help.
To reserve your spot in the 1:00-1:30 p.m. session, register online at or for the 8:00-8:30 p.m., register at
For more information, contact Korthals at 712-737-4230 or

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