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FFT Intervention Program

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"Building relationships alongside families
to strengthen children's literacy and math"

Goal: The Food For Thought (FFT) program aims to teach low-income Latino parents how to utilize everyday food practices (e.g., grocery shopping, cooking, eating out) to foster their kindergarten children's literacy and math skills. The program is delivered in Spanish.

Program description: FFT involves four weekly 90-min meetings at the school. Parents are introduced to literacy and math strategies, watch video examples, and practice with their children while receiving feedback. Subsequently, parents receive text reminders to practice at home with their children.

Results of the feasibility study: 68 parents and their kindergarten children participated in the feasibility study of the FFT program. Children whose parents attended more FFT meetings had larger gains in vocabulary than children whose parents attended fewer FFT meetings. In addition, children whose parents attended the program and had lower initial levels of math skills had larger gains in math skills compared to their counterparts.

Results of the RCT (Randomized Control Trial) study: This is a 2-year study; 248 families participated in the evaluation of the Food For Thought program. Results of the RCT study are available here.

What does the program require from schools? This is a low-maintenance program for schools. We take care of all materials, logistics, recruitment and follow-up of participants. All we need is permission to recruit parents, space accommodations to implement the program in the school and a contact person who will serve as liaison between the program and the school.

Is your school interested in receiving the Food For Thought Program?

Contact Principal Investigator Dr. Diana Leyva (DML114@PITT.EDU)

Project funded by the Brady Education Foundation

Interested in knowing more about the development and implementation of the FFT intervention program?

Here are some news articles and short video clips in English and Spanish:

November 16, 2021

Diana Leyva writes a news article with tips for parents to foster language, literacy and math skills while grocery shopping, cooking, setting the table, and sharing meals. Source

May 17, 2020

Diana Leyva is featured in Child Trend News. here is a Spanish and an English version of the news and a link to a 10-min interview about her research "Keep Kids Learning at Home During COVID-19!" Full interview with Dr. Leyva Source

July 25, 2019

Diana Leyva is featured in Fox43 for her research on "Learning math and reading at the store!"

July, 2019

Diana Leyva is featured in Child Trend News. There is a Spanish and an English version of the news and a link to a 10-min interview about her research "Grocery store math and reading add up!" Full interview with Dr. Leyva Source

Here are some publications that explain in more detail the program:

  1. Leyva, D., Weiland, C., Shapiro, A., Yeomans-Maldonado, G., & Febles, A. (2022). A Strengths-Based, Culturally Responsive Family Intervention Improves Latino Kindergarteners' Vocabulary and Approaches to Learning. Child Development. doi: 10.1111/cdev.13698. A previous version of this paper was published in 2021 as a working paper. See: EdWorkingPaper: 21-349. Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: https://doi.org/10.26300/akf9-xc34
  2. Leyva, D., & Skorb, L. (2019). Food For Thought: Turning everyday family practices into opportunities to develop rich language and literacy abilities in Latino children. In Grover, V., Uccelli, P., Rowe, M., & Lieven, E. (Eds.), Learning through language: Towards an educationally informed theory of language learning. Cambridge University Press.
  3. Leyva, D., Davis, A., & Skorb, L. (2018). Math intervention for Latino parents and kindergarteners based on food routines. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 27, 2541-2551. doi: 10.1007/210826-018-1085-5.
  4. Leyva, D., & Skorb, L. (2017). Food For Thought: Family food routines and literacy in Latino kindergarteners. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 52, 80-90. doi: 10.1016/j.appdev.2017.07.001.