Saturday, June 13, 2009

Parents as Teachers

I could be dating myself, but do you remember hearing about Welcome Wagon many, many years ago? When families located to new neighborhoods, a Welcome Wagon representative would visit their home and bring all kinds of information and special offers from local businesses and services in the area.

When I worked for a Parents as Teachers (PAT) program as a parent educator, I often described our program as being a Welcome Wagon for parents. Using the PAT Born to Learn curriculum, I would visit families with children ages birth to five each month and bring parenting information, along with a learning activity just right for their child's age.

PAT programs also sponsor playgroups, family activities and field trips. Parents loved our program and often found it hard to believe it was a free community service! New parents especially welcomed a friendly face offering information on their baby's development and being available to answer questions about early childhood issues.

PAT also conducts ongoing developmental screenings along with vision/hearing screenings to detect any issues early on. PAT parent educators are knowledgeable about local services and school districts, such as Early Intervention and the preschool/kindergarten screening process.

PAT programs are usually grant funded and provided by social service agencies or school districts. For this reason, program size and offerings can vary, and some program may have income level limits. However, most programs are open to all families in the community, and they are a wonderful resource for families with children under the age of five:

For more information and to find a program in your city or town, go to

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