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The Abecedarian Approach is a set of teaching and learning strategies for use by parents, caregivers, and anyone else who regularly interacts with children from birth to school entry. Its focus is on high-quality interactions between adult and child that are frequent, intentional, and individualized. Those interactions are the “active ingredient” in 2A. In the original research studies 2A was applied in a child care setting. But newer research (measuring up to 36 months of age) suggests that positive developmental results  using 2A can also be achieved through home visits or playgroups. In fact, because of its flexible nature, the Approach can stand on its own or complement existing care and curricula by refocusing caregivers back to the most important component of care: warm, responsive high-quality interactions.

The Abecedarian Approach consists of 4 key elements: Language Priority, Enriched Caregiving, Conversational Reading, and LearningGames.

Language Priority

During spontaneous, unplanned events 2A provides a template (Notice, Nudge, Narrate) for picking up on the child’s actions or words, describing them, and prompting new words or actions.

Conversational Reading

While reading books 2A helps the adult use hierarchical prompts (See, Show, Say) to elicit progressively more sophisticated responses and engagement from the child.

Enriched Caregiving

In the repeated routines of caregiving 2A guides the adult to attend to multiple opportunities (Care, Connection, Content) to enrich the quality of care to make it a fruitful learning experience.


In purposeful games 2A guides the adult to sustain interactive play so that the child gradually learns to think ahead, pursue a goal, and solve problems.

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