Cori Cain, director of strategic partnerships at the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy of the Atlanta Speech School, leads a lesson for the Pop-Up Early Learning program with her three sons and their pet lizard. Submitted photo
Photo: Submitted photo
Photo: Submitted photo

Atlanta Speech School launches free, online lessons during pandemic

An Atlanta school that specializes in literacy and the science of reading is bringing its expertise to all families through free online lessons.

The nonprofit Atlanta Speech School started in 1938 to serve deaf and hard of hearing students, and children with speech and language issues. Since then, it has evolved to operate four schools and the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy, which trains teachers and others using research-tested approaches.

When the coronavirus pandemic forced the school’s physical campus to close in March, it turned to virtual instruction and opened up lessons to everyone at no cost.

Through the school’s “Pop-Up Early Learning” program, preschoolers and their parents can access eight weeks of free lessons that include vocabulary-building stories, enrichment activities and songs.

The school’s executive director, Comer Yates, said parents have been inundated with resources about how to support their child while doing schoolwork at home. That can be overwhelming, but the school’s online lessons give families what they need in one place.

Providing the free resource to everyone reflects the school’s commitment to social justice and educational equity, he said. Access to the science of reading has long been contingent “on a child’s ZIP code, race and ethnicity,” he said.

Families with toddler and preschool-age children from all 50 states and 19 countries have enrolled in the online program so far.

The school is expanding its virtual offerings to include support for parents of newborns and younger elementary school-age children.

In June, the school will launch a program for students up to third grade to help prepare them for the next school year following the months-long disruption because of the coronavirus.

The school also will offer support and coaching to parents-to-be and new parents on how to engage with their babies for healthy brain development.

The virtual programs are available through the school’s online Cox Campus at

The Atlanta Speech School receives support from the James M. Cox Foundation. The foundation is named in honor of Cox Enterprises’ founder. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is a division of Cox Enterprises.

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