Small Talk, Big Brains!

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Small Talk, Big Brains! A free virtual early literacy course for parents with infants or toddlers

Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach in Polk County will host another session of its popular early literacy program called Small Talk

Small Talk is a free virtual program for parents with infants or toddlers and teaches techniques to improve early language development. This ten-week virtual series will be held on Thursdays starting February 8 from 8:00-9:00 p.m. Participants will receive a free board book each week and a graduation gift. There are only a handful of openings left so register by February 5

“Research shows that the most important time for baby brain development is before the third birthday. Small Talk helps parents and caregivers understand the importance of talking to their baby from the start to help establish early language skills,” Cassie Odland, family wellbeing and nutrition educator for ISU Extension in Polk County said. 

Small Talk uses patented “talk pedometer” technology to measure a child’s language development. Families then receive personalized, actionable feedback reports based on this technology, explore the data, and discuss strategies to increase the quality and quantity of talk at home. Essentially, parents learn the importance of interactive talk and how to increase this type of conversation with very young children. 

“By the end of the program we hope that parents are equipped with fun and practical tools and techniques so they can continue to lay the foundation of learning and literacy with their child,” Odland said.

For more information about Small Talk call or text Cassie at (515) 414-9865 or e-mail her at

About Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in Polk County 

For over 100 years, ISU Extension and Outreach in Polk County has served its residents by connecting them to research and resources developed by Iowa State University. Knowledge and programs offered through the ISU Extension Polk County office have been specifically tailored to represent, enhance, and meet the needs of Polk County residents and the community. For 2024 ISU Extension in Polk County will focus on local issues including K-12 youth outreach; family and food; and agriculture and the environment. ISU Extension and Outreach in Polk County is part of a 99-county campus backed by research to serve all Iowans to create a strong Iowa.


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