Tag Archives: early childhood education

Improving schools: it could be so easy!

We all want a school district that has the ability to create a supportive environment of lifelong learning. Across the country, mental health associations, the United Way, family resource centers, departments of social services and departments of corrections have chosen Parents as Teachers to meet their communities’ needs. The concept continues to be a model where there is a partnership among parents, schools and the community.

When parents are engaged, children thrive.

The most effective early childhood intervention employs a two-generation approach, combining child-focused educational activities (preschool) with parent education and parent-child relationship-building (Parents as Teachers).

Indeed, a study of more than 7,000 Missouri kindergartners revealed that Parents as Teachers, especially when combined with preschool, narrows the achievement gap, particularly for children in poverty. According to the researchers, participation in Parents as Teachers predicts children’s school readiness and third grade achievement, regardless of income level.

Parents as Teachers lays the foundation, but doesn’t work in isolation.

As part of a seamless system of services, what we start is reinforced with preschool and other early childhood programs, and further strengthened in kindergarten as parents experience trust in the school system, become more informed about their neighborhood schools, and are satisfied with their school choice.

Together with schools, Parents as Teachers can create a seamless process to successfully transition families into public schools.

Creating a well-integrated early childhood education system that supports parent engagement, healthy child development and school readiness offers several advantages to school districts in terms of outcomes and impacts.

  • Parents as Teachers parents are more involved in their children’s schooling.
  • They are more likely to regard their school district as responsive to their children’s needs, more apt to initiate contacts with teachers, and take an active role in their child’s schooling.
  • They are more apt to attend parent conferences.
  • They actively support their children’s learning in the home, attend special events at their schools, work as volunteers in the classroom, participate in PTA/PTO meetings, and help with home activities related to school work.

THIS is Parents as Teachers!


I want to see PAT thrive the way PAT helped my son to thrive.*

Dear Parents as Teachers people,

My husband and I took advantage of Parents as Teachers when our son was born in 1993. He was 10 weeks premature and we felt we could use all the help we could get. Last week, we sent our son off to college. He graduated in the top 15% of his high school class. He was named a commended student in the 2012 Merit Scholarship Program for ranking in the top 5% of students who took the PSAT in 2011. We appreciate all the help and input that came from Parents as Teachers in our son’s first few years.

It saddens me that funding has decreased for Parents as Teachers and other educational organizations. I was really proud that Missouri, my state, was in on the ground floor of Parents as Teachers.

So here is our gift to Parents as Teachers. I know it’s not much. As a federal employee, I have also felt the pinch of this “new economy.” We had to cut back on our charitable giving because of a number of things. Even so, most of our charitable donations have decreased. Last year our donation to Parents as Teachers was only $10, but this year I learned about the government cutbacks and wanted to do a little more. I want to see Parents as Teachers thrive the way Parents as Teachers helped my son to thrive.


*A true letter received by Parents as Teachers National Center, the trusted resource for the most respected organizations and professionals meeting the evolving needs of families.
Photo used under Creative Commons license via jjpacres’ photostream.

The economic conundrum

83% of low-income children aren’t reading proficiently in third grade.

Today’s jobs need higher level skills.

Yet 83% of low-income children aren’t reading proficiently in third grade…making them four times less likely to graduate from high school.

1.2 million job openings in STEM-related fields by 2018.

The U.S. will have more than 1.2 million job openings in STEM-related fields by 2018.

Yet less than one-third of elementary school students are considered to be either proficient or advanced in science.

21% of 2- to 5-year-olds are already overweight or obese.

Obesity costs business billions of dollars a year in increased health care and lost productivity.

Yet 21% of children 2-5 years old are already overweight or obese.

School success is the foundation for a prosperous and sustainable society as children enter the workplace.

School success is the foundation for a prosperous and sustainable society as children enter the workplace and become leaders in our communities.

Yet as many as 40% of U.S. children start school without the fundamental building blocks to learn.

It comes down to families.

Strengthening families is the key to improving child outcomes.

Family environments are major predictors of intelligence and socio-emotional abilities…as well as crime, health and obesity.

Strengthening families from the inside out.
Parents as Teachers.

Start a social justice movement

We often equate the value of early childhood education with school readiness and healthy development but rarely with social justice.

In a New York Times editorial, two-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Nicholas D. Kristof, did just that! In a piece titled “Occupy the Classroom,” Kristof  suggests that quality early childhood education addresses the “structural inequality that many young children never get the skills to compete.”

He states, “One common thread, whether I’m reporting on poverty in New York City or in Sierra Leone, is that a good education tends to be the most reliable escalator out of poverty. Whether in America or Africa, disadvantaged kids often don’t get a chance to board that escalator.”

Wrong way

He cites scholars and economists, including James Heckman who spoke at the Missouri Business Leaders Summit sponsored by Parents as Teachers, who note the economic value of early childhood education. This isn’t new information; we’ve known this for decades. The question is, do we have the collective will to reach out to families and close the achievement gap—not just at kindergarten but throughout life—for disadvantaged children?

Will you spread this message and help create a movement for social justice for children?

Photo credit: xcode’s photostream under Creative Commons license

Your professional development starts here.

For more than 25 years, Parents as Teachers has worked to make education more successful. We strive to prepare children for the jobs of the future and continue to help parents, schools and communities come together to do the same. With our November conference, we look forward to sharing ideas, strategies and yes, inspiration with you.

Parents as Teachers is the gateway to the education continuum. Your work lays the foundation for what is to come. But you can’t do it alone.

Susan Neuman

This year, our conference features the insight of Susan Neuman and the inspiration of Bill Strickland.

Bill Strickland

From Neuman’s knowledge on how to improve children’s achievement, to Strickland’s visionary social programs, we will explore together how to nurture support for early childhood education.

Throughout this conference you will rediscover the practical with workshops on bookmaking, fundraising, car seat safety and more…and uncover your potential as you learn what makes an outstanding home visitor. Learn how community-based early childhood education plans are uniting with Parents as Teachers to advance the success of early childhood education. And learn from and network with other early childhood partners from across the country and around the globe.

Listen carefully to our keynote speakers and workshop presenters. Support our exhibitors who help make this conference possible. Have a good time conversing with other early childhood professionals and soak in the abundance of new information and resources offered here.

But most of all, support us by being a part of this international discussion positionoing early childhood as the gateway to the education continuum.


What would most improve public schools?

by Richard Wollenberger

This is the question raised in a snapshot poll by USA Today. I discovered the poll question in the USA Today iPhone app. I like these polls because there are a wide variety of questions, and because as soon as you vote you can see the current results split down to three sets of respondents: Overall, Your State, and Your City. 

I’m not an early childhood expert. I’m the IT Director for the Parents as Teachers national office. I am a father of two girls, now 20- and 15-years old. We participated in our school district’s Parents as Teachers with our first daughter. I’ve also been involved quite heavily in my children’s public schools and with our school district over the past eight years. 

So what would most improve public schools? The choices in this poll were:

  • More money
  • Better teachers
  • Smaller classes
  • Better parents

When I think of all the information I’ve learned from my children about what goes on at school and what I’ve learned from teachers, principals and the Board of Education, I know that more money would allow for more teachers and that would allow for smaller class sizes. I don’t know that better teachers is a result of more money, but certainly better teachers is always a good thing.

Imagine my surprise when, out of 19,574 respondents, 46% said that “Better parents” would most improve public schools! I understand that this is not a scientific poll. But I tend to believe that this many responses may be a better guideline than, say, a political poll we hear so much about where the total polled population is around 1,100 people.

And guess what? I know better parenting makes better students because I see it in my own children, and I see it in the 2,200 kids in our high school and in the 23,000 students in our school district.

And our school district has a large Parents as Teachers program in place. It makes a difference. We make a difference. You make a difference…whether you provide Parents as Teachers services in your area, or you receive Parents as Tachers services for your family.

What about you? What do you think would most improve public schools?

Photo used under Creative Commons license via Neighborhood Centers photostream.

Good intentions: states to apply for federal ed funds

by Jacob Kirn
Used under Creative Commons license

Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia have announced their intention to apply for federal Race to the Top grants later this year. The program is designed to improve early childhood education across the nation through approved programs like Parents as Teachers by distributing $500 million to the best state contenders.
Is your state going to apply? Thirty-seven of these will:
Colorado (State seeks public feedback for its Race to the Top application)
Delaware (Delaware might get a ‘Baby Race to the Top’ grant)
District of Columbia
Georgia (Governor Deal announces intent to apply for early learning grant)
Hawaii (Hawaii joins early learning Race to the Top)
Kansas (Kansas may apply for federal early learning grant)
Kentucky (Kentucky moves forward with Race to the Top application)
Maryland (New teacher evaluations pushed forward as part of Race to the Top application)
Nebraska (Nebraska may apply for Race to the Top grants for early-childhood education)
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York (State competing in Race to the Top 2)
North Carolina
Pennsylvania (Pa. to apply for $500 million education grant competition)
Rhode Island
Vermont (Vermont applies for childhood education funds)
West Virginia (Tomblin: state to apply for Race to the Top education funding)
Wisconsin (Walker indicates state will ‘Race to the Top’ again)
Wyoming (Wyoming may apply for $50 million in early education federal funding)

Jacob Kirn is a journalism major at University of Missouri-Columbia and an intern at Parents as Teachers.