Dulce Meneses first learned about the Parents as Teachers program when her son, Caleb, was 3 months old. He was always in the healthy range at well baby checkups, but she wanted to be sure he didn’t fall behind.
She found support from Sandra Perez, parent educator with the Parents as Teachers program (PAT). This national program 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.
Age and Development Focused Curriculum
“In the beginning, one of the things we focused on was on tummy time on the floor and on parent's chest,” said Perez. Parent educators follow a curriculum to ensure children hit developmental milestones. They can refer families to specialists or resources if needed.
“My experience with the program has been a learning journey,” said Dulce. In the program, a parent educator will visit the family regularly to assess the child and provide evidence based activities to help the child.
“With the techniques provided by my parent educator, I managed to help him learn to crawl. The next step was helping him learn to walk,” said Dulce.
Caleb has now been in the program for two years. “After Caleb learned to walk, he quickly learned to jump, run, and climb,” said Perez.
Individual Support for Parents
The program gives one-on-one support that is specific for each child, tailored for their specific goals. There are also group gatherings that allow families to get to know one another and enlarge their community and support system. “I could see that the social gatherings were a reinforcement of the material taught by the teachers from the visits,” said Dulce. “Not only was I benefitting, but my son was able to work on his social skills.
”PAT gives parents the opportunity to understand their child’s development and nurture it. “From the beginning Dulce has shown interest in asking questions about how improve her parenting skills every day, and sharing her concerns regarding Caleb's development. She made sure to know the reasons behind every activity,” said Perez.
The PAT program is completely free. Once enrolled, families will benefit from home visits, child development screening, and child health screening and community-based education and support meetings. Parent educators can also refer families to other agencies for other services and enrichment activities.