North Star Youth Partnership

North Star Youth Partnership engages youth ages 11-18 through educational, recreational, leadership and service-learning opportunities. What started in 1997 as an educational program to prevent adolescent pregnancy in Yavapai County has expanded to 11 different programs serving youth in Central and Northern Arizona.

Tuesday, 02 May 2017

New Parents Find Confidence

Written by
Nathanael, Evan and Shelby Coonrod Nathanael, Evan and Shelby Coonrod

There is so much conflicting advice on parenting on a regular Google search. It’s hard to know who to trust. Do you follow your parent’s and grandparent’s advice or the latest parenting fads?

Shelby and Nathanael Coonrod found themselves in this situation when their son, Evan, was born. They were committed to doing the right thing but didn't know what that entailed.

They discovered the Parents as Teachers (PAT) program. This national program that helps parents be their child’s first and most important teacher. The PAT curriculum supports their child’s brain development and ensures that their child develops optimally during the crucial early years of life.

Infant Reaches Developmental Milestones

“When the Coonrod family enrolled in the program, Evan was 6 months old. He was starting to make loud noises with his voice, and he responded to his name,” said Sandra Perez, parent educator with the Parents as Teachers program. “Evan was very attentive and enjoyed being hugged and cuddled. In the first month of services, he learned to sit without support and roll.” 

“We learned so much,” said Shelby. “We have integrated it into our family, and it’s hard to recall everything that we’ve learned.” Families in the PAT program receive regular visits from a parent educator. These visits include child developmental screening, health screening, monthly community-based education and support meetings and connection to community resources.

Parent educators follow a foundational curriculum, “We frequently review the developmental milestones and respond to concerns and questions from the parents in each stage of Evan’s development,” said Perez.

Parents Get Individualized Plan

Families enroll in this free program and get lessons tailored to their child’s individual needs. “When Evan was smaller and starting to grab things, Sandra taught us to have him ‘tweet tweet’ with his fingers to help with grabbing smaller objects with his index fingers. This helped him a lot,” said Shelby. “Within a week of having him do this, he could grab Cheerios and eat them with no problem.”

Perez and other parent educators also use the Keys to Interactive Parenting Scale (KIPS) as a tool to enhance the parent’s play skills.

The techniques shared by the parent educators help the parents as well. For example, when parents can’t understand their children, frustration can ensue. “Sandra had us create a photo album with pictures containing a person or object the Evan might want. This helped him better communicate what he wanted,” said Shelby.

Many experts agree that children under 2 years old should not have any screen time, and very little after that. Shelby and Nathanael credit Sandra and the PAT program for helping them limit screen time for Evan as well. “We’ve noticed that Evan can keep his attention on whatever he’s playing with for long amounts of time,” said Shelby. 

The lessons learned in the PAT program have given both Shelby and Evan more confidence. Evan learned to sleep go to sleep on his own and swells with pride when he gets to make his own choices. They will continue in the program until Evan is 5 years old and anticipate even more success!

Learn more about the Parents as Teachers program and see if it is right for your family.

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