The Abecedarian Approach

Craig T. Ramey, Joseph J. Sparling, & Sharon L. Ramey

Program Summary
The Abecedarian Approach is a combination of teaching and learning enrichment strategies for use in early childhood education settings that is comprised of four key elements: 1) learning games, 2) conversational reading, 3) language priority, and 4) enriched care giving. These strategies were developed for and validated in a longitudinal research study known as the Abecedarian Project. By using the Abecedarian Approach, early childhood professionals can enhance their abilities to provide stable and stimulating interactions with children by engaging them in many rich and varied adult-child interaction activities on a daily basis. The ultimate goal of this educational approach is to facilitate positive child outcomes in areas such as cognitive, social-emotional, communication, and school readiness skills.
Target Population
Risk factors during pregnancy or birth
Psychological risk factors

Evaluation Summary
The evaluation results of the Abecedarian Project demonstrate that early education for at-risk children within a safe, responsive, and stimulating environment can produce positive and long-lasting effects on the course of development. The Abecedarian Project is the only early childhood education program that has demonstrated statistically significant cognitive benefits into young adulthood. The four key elements of the Abecedarian Approach constitute a powerful tool for early childhood professionals to improve the competence and quality of life, particularly for children from low resource environments.

Staffing Requirement/Training
Staff members must possess strong language skills to teach language to young children and to effectively communicate with children's family members and/or primary caregivers. It is also recommended that lead teachers possess a bachelor's or master's degree in education and that teaching assistants possess at least a high school diploma.

The original program was implemented in a child development center with teaching staff comprised of a lead teacher and at least one teaching assistant per child group. Staff to child ratios ranged from 1:3 for infants to 1:6 for children aged four to five.

Infant and/or Child Developmental Outcomes
Social emotional
Program Core Components
Early childhood education
Child development center
Curriculum Used
Activities/games for child functioning including Language Priority, Conversational Reading, Enriched Caregiving, and LearningGames®
Home-based (social work home visits on an as needed basis)
Direct Participants

Child's Age at Program Start
4 Months

More than 36 months

The Program Package includes:

  • The Abecedarian Approach Program Summary. Provides a general overview of the program and how the program has demonstrated positive impacts on child developmental outcomes.
  • Abecedarian: The Ideas, the Approach, and the Findings. This book provides in-depth information about the program's history, research findings, and program implementation guidelines.
  • The Creative Curriculum LearningGames. A complete set of five books used to implement the LearningGames element of the Abecedarian Approach.
  • Conversation Books A set of two bilingual (English- and Spanish-Language) books used to implement the conversational reading element of the Abecedarian Approach.
  • Implementation Checklists. A set of four implementation checklists that help guide implementation of the four key elements of the Abecedarian Approach as they are meant to be used in classrooms or child development centers. Checklist #1: Learning Games, Checklist #2: Conversational Reading, Checklist #3: Language Priority, Checklist #4: Enriched Caregiving
  • Teacher Training Handouts. The 3S Strategy: See, Show, Say, The 3N Strategy: Notice, Nudge, Narrate
  • Early Intervention Evidence-Based Practice Resource Guide. Interactive, easy-to-use tool that consists of practical tips and resources designed to assist professionals and organizations to select, adopt, and implement early intervention evidence-based practice. In addition to the resource guide, this USB flash drive contains the PDF files of the Implementation Checklists and the Teacher Training Handouts from which users may print additional copies of these forms.
  • Telephone technical support on implementation for 1 year.

Abecedarian Approach Program Package
Hardcopy program package, shipped
Price: $350.00
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Abecedarian Approach Program Summary
Hardcopy Program Summary, Shipped
Price: $18.00
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Abecedarian Approach Program Summary Digitized
PDF version of the Program Summary - Download
Price: $12.00
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