Parents as Teachers
Credit: Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Parents as Teachers is a program designed to support families from pregnancy to birth, and can stay until their children reach early kindergarten. The success of the program is due to its home-visit education model, where certified parent educators use evidence-informed and research-proven curriculum to teach families.

It was established in Missouri in 1981 to help cross the learning gap of kids who are starting kindergarten. Now, over 2000 affiliates are implementing the Parents as Teachers all over the United States, as well as in other countries.

With this program, educators help parents work on their parenting skills to ensure that their kids grow up safe, healthy, and educated. Parents as Teachers’ goal is to raise parent’s awareness on early childhood development, avoid child neglect and abuse, help parents detect signs of health issues and mental developmental delays, and make children ready for school. They have different educational materials for families with babies up to 3 years old, and those with 3 years until kindergarten.

Home visitation is one of the most important factors of the Parents as Teachers program. A trained parent educator will visit weekly, bimonthly, or monthly, based on the family’s needs. They do not only teach, but also participate in all activities of the curriculum, together with the families. They make sure to facilitate child-parent interaction, emphasize on parenting styles that are development-centered, and ensure good overall well-being of the family.

With the child-parent interaction, they ensure focus on the promotion of positive parenting behaviors through various child-parent activities. The link between a child’s development with discipline, health, safety, sleep, healthy births, nutrition, and attachment is what development-centered parenting style focuses on. Lastly, for the well-being of the family, parent educators focus on the capabilities, skills and strengths of everyone in the family.

Credit: Salfalko via Flickr

Another key factor of the Parents as Teachers model is the frequent group sessions that parents attend with their kids to learn and share information, as well as gaining social support from their peers. This includes activities like presentations, parent cafes, and community events.

Having annual checkups, vision and hearing tests, and other developmental screenings, are the third important factor of this program. Also, affiliates of Parents as Teachers program have several tie-ups with community organizations, and local institutions that offer services to families. They assist in helping the families set goals, identify their needs, and connect with the community.

If you want to be a parent educator, it is ideal that you have a bachelor’s degree in areas like human services, early childhood education, or other related fields. However, Parents as Teachers also accept a high school graduate with 2 years of working experience (under supervision) with little children and/or parents. If teaching is your calling, and working with kids is what you love, this might be the job that’s best for you.