Category Archives: For parents

Helping Parents & Parent Educators in Times of Trauma

By Scott Hippert
President/CEO, Parents as Teachers National Center

ScottHippert_135x115Just over 30 years ago, Ferguson, Missouri served as fertile ground for the seed that grew into Parents as Teachers. Planted in this peaceful, child-focused community, Parents as Teachers (PAT) has become a model across the U.S. that puts the well-being of children first and foremost, and gives parents the knowledge and tools they need to foster engaged citizens and productive leaders.

Today, the Ferguson community is grappling with the aftermath of a tragedy that has deeply shaken it and sent ripples of unrest throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area and the nation. Clearly, there are serious issues about race that we must confront and find solutions to – across our nation and in the St. Louis area.

But that real work that needs to happen is nearly invisible, blocked out by news footage and pictures of rampant destruction and violence that much of our country now equates with Ferguson. Nearly all of the destruction has come at the hands of outsiders who have used the situation to steal from local businesses and tear apart a community in which they have no stake.

We know situations like this create toxic stress that affects people, especially young children, for life. Our work amid all the unrest is to continue to make sure parents and their children have the best support possible. So our parent educators, the trained early learning professionals who deliver parenting education and support to families through personal visits, are continuing to work with the families in the Ferguson and surrounding communities to keep them strong and centered.

Here are some tips from the PAT curriculum which you can use in your own families to deal with stress and trauma:

  • Children thrive on routine. Try to keep regular mealtimes and bedtime. Spend quiet time reading each night to create calm.
  • Turn off the TV and radio when children are around. Continually witnessing unrest can be very unsettling for children.
  • What they need to hear most is that the adults around them will take care of them and protect them.
  • Children aren’t little adults. Answer questions in an age-appropriate way and with only a few details. They should be in an environment that fits their developmental needs.

The PAT website has more information for parents and caregivers, along with helpful websites and other resources – click here to access it.

It’s time for everyone on all sides of this tragedy to put our families and children first.

The Helping Relationship: A Foundation for Families’ School Readiness

by Amy De La Hunt

As back-to-school season ramps up, parents are busy shopping for supplies, coordinating physicals, figuring out school day schedules – and, squeezed in among all these responsibilities, maybe doing a few more fun summer activities. Meanwhile, teachers are organizing their classrooms, preparing lesson plans, attending orientations and learning who they’ll have as students.

Woman_Girl_Painting_smThese two busy worlds intersect soon (if they haven’t already) as the teacher reaches out to welcome new students and their families. It’s easy to overlook the importance of this little message and parents’ response to it, but research shows that developing positive lines of communication now can set the tone for a successful home-school partnership the rest of the year.

Children’s transition to school is most successful when their parents and teachers are interconnected. In fact, the more information about their child parents share with the school, the more they influence the school’s ability to educate their child.

Parents know many things about their child the teacher doesn’t:

  • Their history, including life-shaping events and special personal relationships.
  • Their temperament, habits, likes and dislikes.
  • The family’s culture and practices, including caregiving routines, communication styles, beliefs about learning, and expectations for the future.
  • The extended family structure.

Teachers, for their part, hold the crystal ball that gives parents a peek into:

  • What the child will be learning during the coming year.
  • What day-to-day classroom life will look like.
  • Which other specialists and educators will impact the child’s learning.
  • How the school’s routines will play out over the weeks and months ahead.

If all of this sounds familiar to parent educators, there’s good reason. The helping relationship parent educators and families develop is based on a mutual sharing of information, observations and goals related to the child – which mirrors the relationship parents will build with their child’s classroom teacher. Within PAT, the child’s path toward school readiness within PAT parallels the family’s growth and development that better prepares them to be effective partners with their child’s school and teachers.

Parents and classroom teachers need not do a huge brain dump right now, when everything feels so frenetic. There’ll be plenty of time to discover each other’s communication preferences, ask questions and set goals once the backpacks are purchased and the bulletin boards are filled. Instead, both sides can star with expressing their sincere desire to partner in the learning process. Thanks to the groundwork laid by parent educators, PAT families can be confident they have the tools needed for this new relationship.

Amy De La Hunt is Curriculum Development Manager for Parents as Teachers.
Some of the material in this post first appeared in the PAT curriculum
We’re Going to School! A Parent Involvement Approach to School Transitions, available from the estore.